eurosRecently, there have been a number of situations in Europe where bloggers and content publishers have been the victims of censorship. The cause—because their content ranked high on search engines.

This month, Kevin Rawlinson of BBC News reported on a new incident, but this time the blogger’s published opinion based on a personal experience led to censorship and a hefty fine.

French Blogger Fined for Negative Restaurant Review Published on Her Blog

Caroline Doudet is a blogger from France. She writes a blog about fashion and literature, Cultur’elle, where she has approximately 3,000 followers. In 2013, she published a blog post where she talked about the poor service she received when she ate at a restaurant in Cap-Ferret named Il Giardino.

Doudet’s blog post ended up ranking fourth in Google search results, and the restaurant’s owner wasn’t happy. He claimed that Doudet’s blog post was causing him to lose business because it was so prominent in Google results.

In the United States, free speech rights would protect the blogger. In other words, it would be tough luck for the restaurant owner, and he better get working to fix his service and his online reputation. However, in Europe, laws are a bit different. The restaurant owner sued Doudet and won. Doudet had to pay about $2,000 in damages and almost the same amount to cover Il Giardano’s legal fees.

The Lesson for Authoritative Content Owners

As Doudet shared with the BBC, this court decision penalizes people for “being too highly ranked” on search engines or for “having too great an influence.” In other words, Doudet’s success in attracting 3,000 followers to her blog and writing a piece of content that Google’s algorithm ranked highly would end up being the crime that cost her thousands of dollars.

One thing is certain. Content publishers need to make sure that they understand the local and national laws that affect how and what they publish online.

What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on these types of cases that bloggers and online content publishers are facing today.

Image: Svilen Milev