A fake food critic in France has been fined $2,800 after posting a false review of a Michelin starred restaurant.
The reviewer posted a negative post about the Loiseau des Ducs restaurant back in 2013. The review said the place was “very overrated, all for show and with very little on the plate”.
The review added that “the most plentiful plate was the one carrying the bill” - but here’s the kicker. The restaurant wasn’t actually open at the time the review was posted, in fact, it wasn’t due to open for five days.
The French courts, who didn’t publish the name of the reviewer who went under the pseudonym The Clarifier, said that the review was not based on a real experience and that it was aimed at discouraging customers from visiting the restaurant.
On top of the $2,800 in damages, the fake reviewer will also have to pay around $5,400 towards the cost of the investigation. The Loiseau des Ducs restaurant is party of the Bernard Loiseau group, one of France's most famous chef who committed suicide in 2003. The Group director Ahlame Buisard told the BBC the company was not against real customers expressing positive or negative opinions, but fightimg against a fake review was done on principle.
This is not the first time the French courts have fined bloggers - in 2014 Caroline Doudet was ordered to pay $2,000 in damages after it was found her blog post, titled: “The place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino” was too prominent on Google searches.
Is this a way for honest restaurants to fight back or is it a way to hinder free speech and expression?