E-Reputation Law - a case study on e-reputation

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E-Reputation Law

Destructive reaction: can I make a harmful message disappear? (cont’d)

(b) Location: harmful message on the company’s website

The company has full control over its own website. It can therefore set the terms of use of its website and decide for which purposes it may be used. If the website allows the publication of comments, the company will be well advised to clearly indicate which kinds of content it considers not to be permitted.

For instance, the company can indicate in the terms of use of its website that it reserves the right to remove comments that do not relate in any way to the company or its products (for instance ‘Vote for Piet Pieters in the next election!’).

It is nevertheless worth pointing out that terms of use that restrict the kind of comments that are authorised do not entitle the company to remove just about any harmful message. Indeed, the company must comply with the freedom of expression of web users and may only restrict it in the circumstances described earlier. Consequently, the company will have to be careful when it wishes to remove messages by web users on its website. It will be difficult to justify the removal of messages if they are not unlawful statements (defamation/calumny, etc.) but are merely the expression of a critical opinion in relation to the company or its products.