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maligned v criticised

Don't say that: 

" their much maligned Privacy Policy. "

Do say this: 

"their heavily criticised Privacy Policy. "


The example is taken from tech magazine hackaday.com.

There's a hint as to why it's wrong: any word that starts "mal.." is probably developed from French where "mal" means "bad."

Think of "malware" or "malevolent".

"maligned" might be loosely interpreted as "bad mouthed" and that would be used when criticism is unjust or excessive.

So where the criticism is both fair and appropriate, even if it is blunt and forceful, it is just that: criticism.

To "malign" something might even be considered to make false criticism.

Why? If you do, your criticism will be criticised.