A UK business owner has successfully managed to have a review pulled from Google Places, after a disgruntled customer accused him of touching his 9-year old child inappropriately, reports the BBC.
Toni Bennett runs ‘That Computer Chap’, a computer repair service based in the Midlands, and it seems that a customer, going by the name of ‘Paul’, wasn’t too pleased with the service he received, posting this message to Google Places in April 2010:
“Robbed My RAM and Touched 9 Year Old What a scam artist, he stole RAM from my computer and replaced it with smaller chips hoping I wouldnt notice and also I later found out touched my 9 year old inappropriately. A Violator and a rogue trader. DO NOT DO TRADE WITH THIS MAN!”
Bennett said he had contacted Google on a number of occasions by email, but Google had told him the message didn’t qualify for removal. He also says he went to the police, saying that whilst they acknowledged the allegations made against him were false, they couldn’t intervene. He had planned legal action against the search giant to force its deletion.
“I had to re-read it a few times, to check it was talking about me,” he told the BBC. “I was absolutely gobsmacked. It’s just mad that someone can do this and it’s so anonymous that someone can put on something about a crime against a child – you can’t get any worse than that, bar killing somebody. And they can get away with it.”
Google eventually removed the posting, saying that from time to time it does review comments flagged as inappropriate. However, Bennett claims to have lost 80% of his local business following the false claims, and said he had planned to sue Google for defamation.
We’re seeing a rise in stories such as this, with people trying to regain control of their reputation after false stories emerging about them online.
Back in June, we reported that an Irish hotel was suing Google over an auto-complete option that suggested it was going into receivership, something that was deterring people from booking weddings at the hotel. And in September we reported that a hotel in England was facing ruin after being suspected of writing its own reviews on Trip Advisor, something the owner denied, claiming a hotel guest had written it using the hotel’s WiFi which is why the review had been posted from the same IP address.