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So you can delete or have Google reviews deleted

In Germany, customer ratings and reviews are generally from Right to freedom of expression protected. So you cannot prevent that you are rated on the Internet and that this rating is made publicly available to others. Nor do you have a fundamental right to have unpleasant criticism deleted.

The case is different, however, if the relevant Google rating one of the following two facts Fulfills:

  • False factual assertion: It misrepresents objective, provable circumstances and therefore falls under defamation or defamation.
  • Abusive criticism: Such a criticism exists if the review does not deal with the matter, but aims solely to insult and denigrate the entrepreneur or his company.

Reviews that fall under these categories are available under no constitutional protection - you are even forbidden under German law. This means that Google has to confront the respective author with the position of the rated company and ask for an opinion. Subsequently is Obliges Google to delete the rating. Therefore, if the review is negative, it is always worth asking whether it is a lie and whether the author was a customer or business partner of the company at all.

The problem lies in the clear delimitation of untrue factual assertions or defamatory criticism from a legitimate value judgment that is protected by freedom of expression. For example, a subjective rating such as "I found the ambience in the restaurant uncomfortable because red lights were on everywhere.“Inadmissible if the alleged establishment does not have any lamps that emit red light. On the other hand, a polemical and exaggerated statement like "The advisor was absolutely stupid and incompetent."Maybe even permissible as long as the reviewer offers a comprehensible reason such as:"He had no knowledge of the common technical terms and was not able to give a clear answer to my question even after repeated inquiries.

German case law has recently clarified another issue: In March 2016, the Federal Court of Justice ruled, that a pure 1-star online rating without a justification violates the personal rights of the entrepreneur concerned, since no treatment or business contact between the author and the company can be identified (judgment of the VI Civil Senate of 1.3.2016 - VI ZR 34/15).

The Hamburg Regional Court confirmed this judgment again in January 2018: In this case, the owner of an inn had denied that a pure 1-star rating without text came from one of his guests or that there was any other business relationship with the author. The owner then requested that the rating be deleted, but Google declined on the grounds that there was no violation of the group's guidelines. The district court thereupon obliged Google to check and delete the respective evaluation, since a business contact between the company and the author was doubtful and could not be confirmed by Google either (LG Hamburg 24th civil chamber, judgment of 12.01.2018, 324 O 63/17).

Just that The Augsburg Regional Court had issued a different verdict a year earlier in August 2017 and the claim of the plaintiff, not knowing the author of a pure 1-star rating without text, rejected as "insignificant" (LG Augsburg, final judgment of 17.08.2017 - 022 O 560/17).