Japan Vs Google: Japanese Authorities Order Google to Take Down Defamatory Reviews
After two reviews that appeared on Google maps, which were extremely critical of a medical clinic, were ruled as being defamatory, the Chiba District Court ordered Google to have the reviews removed from its search engine results.
The medical practitioner who worked at the clinic in question, who shall be left unnamed, was alleged to have treated the individuals who left the two negative reviews. After seeing the negative reviews, the doctor then signed an affidavit promising that each of the reviews were completely false and defamatory.
Neither of the reviews violates any of Google’s policies, and thus Google will look to lodge an appeal against the ruling, as they stated to TechCrunch.
Google has said: “While we provide tools that allow business owners to respond to reviews, and we take down posts that violate our policies, we believe online reviews are a critical tool for people to give and read direct feedback about businesses,”
It’s easy to see why Google would be apprehensive about removing reviews, especially when the removal is based on nothing more than a denial from the service provider. If negative reviews can be taken down in this way, it could possibly lead to the removal of genuine reviews and undermine the credibility of Google’s review system as a whole.
A Small Fine of $2,500
Google has threatened with an inconsequential $2,500 penalty if the reviews are not removed. The greater concern however is that removing the reviews may set the precedent that other courts, authorities, or businesses can easily remove negative reviews from the Google search results, and this could cause more problems for Google in the future.