​Removing fake reviews: how do you do that?

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​Removing fake reviews: how do you do that?

One of the best forms of advertising you can have as an entrepreneur is satisfied customers who speak positively about your services. With the arrival of digital platforms such as Google and Trustpilot, it is becoming increasingly easier for customers to share experiences. However, this also has a downside. Entrepreneurs are increasingly confronted with false reviews in which consumers express very negative views about the work. Such negative, false reviews can unfairly place entrepreneurs in a bad light. What’s even more annoying is that removing these types of fake reviews is a lot more difficult than posting them. In this blog I explain what exactly you can do as an entrepreneur to have a fake review removed.

Submit request to the platform

The first step you can take as an entrepreneur to have a review removed is to submit a request to the platform where the statement is made. Platforms such as Google and Trustpilot use a so-called Notice and Take Down-procedure. This Notice And Take Down procedure allows you to report a particular review and indicate why it should be removed. However, experience shows that platforms are usually not eager to actually remove data. The position is often appealed to that negative experiences can also be shared. This is of course the case if a review is based on actual experiences.

Sending a demand letter

If the report that has been made has not led to the desired result, writing to the review platform could be the next step. In such a letter, the review platform is summoned to remove the review based on substantiation. Review platforms can be held liable for false content if they knew that a post was unlawful but nevertheless took no action.

A platform can also be ordered to provide the name and address details of the person who posted the review. Whether the platform is also obliged to provide name and address data is assessed on the basis of the criteria formulated in the standard judgment Lycos / Pessers.5 In a specific case, the judge examines whether the following circumstances apply:

  • the possibility that the information, considered in itself, is unlawful and harmful to the third party is sufficiently plausible;
  • the third party has a real interest in obtaining the name and address data;
  • it is plausible that in the specific case there is no less drastic option to retrieve the name and address details;
  • weighing the interests involved of the third party, the service provider and the website holder (insofar as this is known) means that the interests of the third party should prevail.

Initiating proceedings

Have the above actions been taken, but has the desired result still not been achieved? Then you can always consider starting legal proceedings (often summary proceedings). There are now several practical examples that show that litigation in these types of issues has sometimes led to reviews being removed.

In such a procedure, a judge will weigh up the interests of the reviewer to share his experiences and the interest of the company not to have its honor and good name damaged. Since the amendment of the Unfair Commercial Practices Act in 2022, this also takes into account the question of whether the review is based on actual experiences of a consumer.

Going to court can therefore still provide a solution if your company suffers a great deal of disadvantage as a result of a certain review.

[Fotocredits – meeboonstudio © Adobe Stock]

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