I’m rather glad the reviewer was fined though it sounds like his fake negative review didn’t hinder the restaurant’s success.
Europe has a different legal system. While I don’t like fake negative reviews, should people really get fined for writing a negative review? This is just an online nobody poster, right? I like to err on the side of “Freedom of Expression”
I think writing a negative fake review implies intent to harm the business. In this case, since it was so obviously fake, I agree with fining the reviewer.
Don’t mess with Bernard Loiseau, his phantom is still spying around if you try to hurt his restaurant empire. I agreed the guy who wrote to harm business should be fined.
There was a long and passionate thread over at the formerly-great site about a fine imposed on a reviewer of a French restaurant on the Riviera. It is fascinating insofar as it shows that even real reviews, with no misstatements of fact–only pure opinion–can still get you fined in France. Moreover, they could get you arrested in France for posting reviews from USA!
The case you cite does not raise my First Amendment hackles much, because the timing proves it was completely fake and intended only to damage the business. Even our law, with its free speech protections, can punish such acts; we just make it a civil matter, and call it “tortious interference with business expectancy.”
To be precise, the many countries of Europe have their own, often very different, legal systems. Even here in the UK, the civil/criminal justice system in Scotland is different from the rest of the country.
It’s something you cannot generalise about.
By the by, unless this is a similar case, I’m sure it is not a new story. Certainly rings a bell of it being discussed a year or so back. The significant evidence here is not that the reviewer wrote a negative review but that it was clearly false and totally fabricated as it was published even before the restaurant opened. As such, it is malicious and the victom has a very reasonable right to seek redress under many codes of civil justice.