French blogger fined over review’s Google search placing

Guess they don’t believe in freedom of speech in France…

A French judge has ruled against a blogger because her scathing restaurant review was too prominent in Google search results.

The judge ordered that the post’s title be amended and told the blogger Caroline Doudet to pay damages.

Ms Doudet said the decision made it a crime to be highly ranked on search engines.

The restaurant owner said the article’s prominence was unfairly hurting his business.

Ms Doudet was sued by the owner of Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France after she wrote a blogpost entitled “the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino”.

According to court documents, the review appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant. The judge decided that the blog’s title should be changed, so that the phrase: “the place to avoid” was less prominent in the results.

The judge sitting in Bordeaux also pointed out that the harm to the restaurant was exacerbated by the fact that Ms Doudet’s fashion and literature blog “Cultur’elle” had around 3,000 followers, indicating she thought it was a significant number.

“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).

Next time this happens, someone should refuse, and go to jail, as an act of defiance.

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