It was with astonishment that I learned about recent news that a French judge fined a blogger for publishing a bad review about a restaurant on her website. The owners of the restaurant she reviewed weren’t happy with the fact that her blog post was showing so prominently on SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages) and took her to court for damages.
“This decision creates a new crime of ‘being too highly ranked [on a search engine]’, or of having too great an influence’,” Ms Doudet told the BBC.
“What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people,” she added.
The judge told Ms Doudet to amend the title of the blog and to pay €1,500 ($2,000; £1,200) in damages to the restaurant, as well as €1,000 to cover the complainant’s costs.
Does this make any sense? What does it mean for bloggers, as this opens a serious precedent?
Does this mean that there will be a new kind of censorship being enforced and that one will have to be careful about writing negative reviews, even if they are true? I’m not the kind of person to write a scathing blog post about anything, but really, is this right? If someone is providing a bad service or distributing poor quality products, shouldn’t we be able to say so openly, without fear of repercussions?