What Does The New Consumer Review Fairness Act Mean?

Online reviews are everywhere. Many businesses hate reviews because they don’t like receiving the negative ones. So instead of embracing reputation marketing and listening and responding to what their customers have to say about their experience — the good and the bad — some companies began including “gag orders” in their terms of service. These gag orders essentially prohibited their customers from leaving negative reviews about the business.

If a consumer DID leave a bad online review about the business, the company could then either fine or sue the customer because they violated their terms of service (even though the majority of consumers didn’t even know this clause existing or that they agreed to it!)

This sneaky tactic caught the attention of New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance, Vice Chair of the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. He became concerned about protecting consumers who posted honest feedback online about the companies and products they used. He lead the charge and created the new Consumer Review Fairness Act which protects consumers’ freedom of speech when it comes to leaving honest online reviews about a business.

I recently wrote a blog post about this new law on Search Engine Land. If you want to learn the whole scoop about the sneaky gag orders (and how review site like Yelp feel about them), check out my blog post there.

What does the Consumer Review Fairness Act mean for consumers and online reviews?