French blogger fined for posting negative restaurant review

A French blogger has been fined by a court because her scathing review of a restaurant was placed too highly in Google’s rankings.

Caroline Doudet was taken to court by the owner of the restaurant she reviewed, the Il Giardino, after she wrote a post on her blog with the title, “The Place to Avoid in Cap-Feret: Il Giardino”.

The popular blogger’s post appeared fourth when the restaurant’s name was searched for. While the owner said the review’s ranking was unfairly hurting his business, Ms Doudet called the decision “a crime to be popular”.

The judge also pointed out that, as she is a fairly influential blogger, with around 3,000 followers on her fashion and literature blog Cultur’elle, Ms Doudet’s review had already reached a significant number of people as soon as it was posted.

“What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people,” said Ms Doudet, adding that because the hearing was called as an emergency one, she did not even have time to find a lawyer, so ended up representing herself.

Ms Doudet was ordered to change the title of her post and pay £1,200 in damages.

The restaurateur claimed that although she could handle constructive criticism, Ms Doudet was unfairly harsh in her review.

“This article showed in the Google search results and did my business more and more harm, even though we have worked seven days a week for 15 years. I could not accept that. People can criticise, but there is a way of doing it – with respect. That was not the case here.”