Feedback extortion. It’s a real thing. I’m not making it up.
The term “feedback extortion” has been popularized by eBay sellers. It refers to occasions when buyers threaten to post negative reviews if sellers won’t accede to their wishes.
They want a replacement product without returning the original. They want a full refund before they return a product. Most cases involve unreasonable requests.
However, feedback extortion has implications far beyond eBay.
Feedback extortion can happen to anyone who sells goods or services online. These days, people read online reviews before they purchase anything. It’s called social proof.
When someone posts a negative review about you or your business, you could lose money because of it. That’s why feedback extortion works.
If you’re the victim of feedback extortion (or plain-old fake negative reviews), you’ll want to throw things at your computer monitor. You’ll want to sue the pants off the responsible party. You’ll want to yell and drink lots of Chardonnay and maybe even quit your job.
Don’t give in to any of those urges (except maybe the wine).
Instead, respond to the criticism. Remain as civil as possible. Let the person know that you’ll seek legal action if the opportunity presents itself.
Then do nothing. Because there’s nothing you can do about it. At least, not about the review itself.
What you can do is generate lots of content about yourself online. Make yourself known. Get your name out there.
Push fake negative reviews to the bottom of the SERPs. Make them less easy to find.
That’s all you can do. And remember that you’re not alone.
That, and speak out about this issue whenever you can. If someone you know plans to post a fake negative review, talk them out of it.
And if you ever get the urge to exact vengeance upon someone in this fashion, come back and read this article. Realize that your actions can have long-term repercussions.
If you’re a struggling freelance writer, feel free to get in touch. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy helping other freelance writers find their way.