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Search Engine Censorship

Blogger Fined for Top-Ranked Restaurant Review

ashleyzeckman
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Customer Bad Review

Is it possible to get reprimanded or even fined for being too good at your job? It appears that you can. French blogger Caroline Doudet must pay damages for a negative restaurant review that was appearing too prominently in Google search, BBC News reported.

Il Giardino restaurant reported that Doudet's review and its prominent position on Google was "unfairly hurting their business".

Doudet's blog post reviewing the restaurant was titled "the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino". Court documents revealed that at the time, her review was showing up fourth in search results on Google.

The judge believed that the fact that Doudet had approximately 3,000 followers on her fashion and lit blog Cultur'elle, caused additional harm to the restaurant.

As part of the ruling, Doudet was ordered to amend her post title and pay damages in the amount of €1,500 ($2,000; £1,200) as well as an additional €1,000 to cover Il Giardino's costs.

When BBC asked Doudet about the case she said "This decision creates a new crime of 'being too highly ranked [on a search engine]', or of having too great an influence. We look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people."

What Was So Terrible About Her Review?

Unfortunately Doudet's article has since been deleted. However, it appears that she had complained about bad service and an owner with a poor attitude during a visit in 2013.

There are plenty reviews like the one above for many restaurants around the world, I've even written a few myself. The issue was that because of Doudet's influence, her negative review rose to the top.

What Did Il Gardino's Owner Have to Say?

The owner of Il Gardino admitted that sometimes service may not be what it should in the month of the August. However, he felt that after building his business for 15 years, this sort of negative review was not acceptable.

Apparently he also believed that Doudet's review was not handled with respect and there could have been a better way to approach it.

Sure, nobody wants his or her dirty laundry publicized. Perhaps the restaurant was having a bad night. There are many contributing factors to why Doudet had a bad experience. Regardless, it should be her right as a patron to share an accurate review of her experience.

Que pensez-vous? (What Do You Think?)

This case is just another in a long line of European censorship relating to search engine results. Do you think the restaurant owner was justified in requesting that the review be amended? If not, what do you think would have been a better course of action?


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