A Saskatoon woman said she’s shocked a one-star review she left for a local business turned into a viral online confrontation.
“I kept saying, ‘I can’t believe these are coming out of the owner’s mouth or his mind,’” she said.
Megan Ekstrand wrote the review, which has garnered more than 1,000 commentsonline, after throwing her sister a wedding shower a few weeks ago at Solar Gardens.
“Gorgeous place to visit, but not event friendly,” she wrote. “We had an incredibly frustrating experience hosting an event there recently and would not recommend it as an event venue.”
Co-owner of Solar Gardens Chris Carnegie responded, and after some back and forth about what happened at the shower, he posted a lengthy response that began with: “Megan Lee, we and our lawyers, are not taking your slanderous and malicious review, as well as your lying comments in your response, lightly.”
He called Ekstrand a “mean girl” and said the review was written to damage the business and destroy their livelihood.
“Just the tirade of comments came. I was very upset. I was at work that day. I was tearful and crying,” Ekstrand said in an interview with CTV News.
Carnegie said he wanted to clear up what happened and defend the business’s reputation.
“You want to take ownership and defend your company and all of this that we’ve worked so hard to achieve,” he said.
Carnegie said he and his partner were upset because they believe Ekstrand’s account goes against Facebook policy because it’s a fake account. The review was written by a Megan Lee on Facebook, and then later changed to Megan Ekstrand.
“When we found out she had been using a fake name then to me all bets were off,” he said.
In one post written to Ekstrand, Carnegie wrote:
“So Megan Lee/Ekstrand the moral of the story is: Lying, deceitful mean girls like Megan Lee/Ekstrand shouldn’t use the Internet to trash businesses using a FALE name and profile. Why? Because…..SOMETIMES THEY GET CAUGHT!!!!!”
Ekstrand said the Facebook account is her real account that she’s always used. Her first and middle name were on the account when she wrote the review, but she changed it to reflect her last name when she was accused of using a fake account.
“I wanted to show him I wasn’t hiding behind anything, that’s who I am,” she told CTV News. “I had no problem sharing information with my name.”
Multiple people posted on the thread speaking out against Carnagie’s comments. He replied to many of them by writing:
“You think it is perfectly fine to trash a business using a FAKE name and Fake profile and then try to cover it up??? You’re actually condoning lies and dishonesty??? SHAME ON YOU!!!”
Carnegie says the business has received harassing texts, emails, phone calls and reviews online, but he says he wouldn’t have handled the situation any differently.
“Because I’m standing up for my business and exposing bad stuff that happens on the internet,” he said.
Ekstrand said she doesn’t want an apology from the business but hopes the situation “blows over.”
“I think at the end of the day I just want people to know that I’m a human, he’s a human. Social media tends to dehumanize people and there was a real person on the other side of that that was really hurt by his comments,” she said.
Carnegie said he doesn’t think the situation will affect business in the end and said he’ll continue to fight back against reviews he believes are fake online.
Saskatoon lawyer Tyler Dahl said the law is keeping up with the digital landscape and that he sees more defamation allegations from online comments – but if someone wants to take their online battle to court, it could be a steep hill to climb.
He said a defamatory comment would tend to lower the reputation of a person or business in the eyes of a reasonable person, which would be the case with most negative business reviews, but Dahl said there are a lot of defences in place including fair comment and truth and justification.
“If the comment being made, the defamatory content is true, you’re justified in doing so. You’re not going to be punished for speaking the truth,” he said.
Dahl said people are free to be honest and give an opinion but reminds people to be careful and thoughtful before posting online.
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