I want to create a website in which I will list various of companies in a niche area. I will write pros/cons and publish a ranking list based on my opinion. So my questions are:

  1. Can I create such a list by using company names?

  2. Can a company sue me because I gave them a bad rank?

  1. Can I create such a list by using company names?

Yes. There is nothing inherently wrong with ranking lists.

  1. Can a company sue me because I listed them on the bottom?

I will assume your jurisdiction is somewhere in the U.S., where defamation law is quite uniform (although not really enforced nowadays) across states.

As long as you refrain from making false and defamatory statements, you will be fine. Supporting any negative statements with verifiable sources which are readily available to your audience will further deter retaliatory lawsuits by companies that rank low in your list.

Being clear in that your list reflects your (subjective) point of view will allow your readers to place themselves in a position to choose what to believe rather than taking it at face value.

But it is worth mentioning that even prefixing defamatory falsehoods with phrases such as "I think" or "In my opinion" might render your publication a statement of fact – rather than a statement of opinion – if the statement is too factually charged. In that case, those statements would be susceptible of a viable claim of defamation.

  • "... you will be fine" seems naive. Having a perfect defense to a civil complaint does not immunize one against complaints (either in or out of court) or other ire. – feetwet Oct 11 at 17:10
  • @feetwet Yes, although that would be true for all types of claims and not just defamation: premises liability, medical malpractice, unfair competition, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and any claim imaginable. I try to avoid generic preambles of the type "Sure, they can always sue you, but they would not prevail". But you are right in that "a perfect defense to a civil complaint does not immunize one against complaints [...] or other ire". Unfortunately, nothing would either. – Iñaki Viggers Oct 11 at 17:25

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