In response to Post 1 by John

In this case Perez spouted an opinion that her contractor was a poor choice and a bad contractor. She then went on to back that up with another opinion which was that Dietz, her contractor, had stolen from her house. The problem was that she presented this second opinion as a fact within her review on yelp. Websites like yelp that serve as a medium for user reviews have become so widely used that they are becoming somewhat like newspapers in their level of importance. There are two main reasons that it is illegal to libel someone in a newspaper. First, newspapers are generally held in very high regard by their generally extensive network of readers. Second, they claim to be presenting facts, things which cannot easily be verified by their individual readers, but are rather accepted and potentially utilized by the readers.

Under these qualifications, it turns out that websites like yelp are actually becoming very similar to newspapers. The amount of people who use sites like this is enormous and is growing rapidly. People use yelp not only to find out information about companies that they are interested in, but also to find and filter lists of businesses that they could potentially use. For instance, “In 2011 a study by Harvard Business School found a link between an uptick in a Yelp! review rating and an increase in revenue for restaurants. On average, the study found, a one star increase on Yelp leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue for that particular restaurant.” This level of significance indicates that people greatly rely on information that they gain from yelp in order to make decisions that will impact their consumer practices.
In addition, the main point of this case is the way in which Perez attacked Dietz. She did so by claiming that he had committed several crimes against her and essentially attempted to ruin the reputation of a man whose livelihood is dependent on a good reputation. In claiming that he stole from and vandalized her home, she essentially rendered him unhirable for anyone who reads her review, which is likely to be extensively read and believed. However, it turns out that Dietz was apparently not responsible for either of her charges. The police have not charged him for stealing and courts have dismissed charges stemming from the alleged vandalism. Thus it turns out that the so-called “factual” evidence that she spouted in her review was likely false. Because she did not present it as an opinion, but rather a statement of fact, she essentially sued Dietz for damages and hurt his business without ever succeeding in court.
Freedom of speech is very important, but it must be used to help the public as opposed to hurting it. In this case, Perez had a clear course for how she should express her opinion; she should have said whatever she wanted on yelp as long as it was an opinion and not spuriously presented as a fact. In the meantime she should have continued her endeavors through the courts. It was not Perez’ duty to ruin another person’s career without any proof of her insinuations. The way through which she did so was and should be illegal.

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