Social media slams restaurateur

So-called “Streisand Effect” ensures Gironde restaurant owner’s decision to sue a blogger over a bad review backfires

16 July 2014

A RESTAURANT owner’s decision to sue a blogger over a negative review of his Italian eaterie in the Gironde department of southwest France has sparked anger on social media and been picked up by news organisations across the world.

Although the offending post has been deleted from the Cultur’elle blog, a cached version has been posted on a US site and has been seen more times after the Cap-Ferret restaurateur’s decision to sue became public knowledge than it had been before.

A court in Bordeaux ordered Orleans blogger Caroline Doudet to pay the restaurateur €1,500 in damages and €1,000 in legal fees after ruling that her year-old piece - entitled “The place to be avoided: Il Giordino” - “discredited a person or a business”, because of its high ranking on the Google search engine and because her “Cultur’elle” blog has nearly 3,000 followers.

The court also ordered Ms Doudet to change the title of the piece. She instead took down the piece, which had - before the court ruling - been read about 500 times.

She told French new website LaRep.fr that, after the court’s decision, she had received calls from French, British and Spanish media, while internet users leapt to her defence via sites such as Google+ and TripAdvisor.

"A restaurant where freedom of expression is not on the menu," wrote a user on Google+.

"The pizza costs €2,500. It is a bit expensive for the service," said another, referring to the total amount the court has ordered Ms Doudet to pay.

"I hesitate to issue a negative opinion because I fear a lawsuit," wrote a third.

Meanwhile, a French lawyer who blogs under the pseudonym Maître Eolas, said: "It seems to me that the judge did not understand the technical issues."

He added that, in French law, this type of decision will not set a legal precedent.

Ms Doudet has said she has no plans to appeal against the court’s ruling. “I do not want to be a martyr,” she told La Rep.fr. “I have 15 days to appeal, but I don’t think I will.”

The unintended additional publicity of the restaurateur’s attempt to have the blog removed is known as the “Streisand effect”, in dubious honour of the singer, whose attempts in 2003 to suppress a photograph of the Malibu coast which included her residence, inadvertently generated further internet interest.

The photograph was viewed 420,000 times in the month that followed her failed $50million lawsuit against photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia.com for violation of privacy, after they included the image among 12,000 others detailing coastal erosion in the area.

Prior to the case, it had been downloaded six times - two of them by Streisand’s lawyers.

Image: Cultur'elle blog site / screengrab

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