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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take action against any review?

Yes, if reviews are not true or contain illegal statements of opinion. Even if criticism is unjustified, you can defend yourself. The rated service, the rated product or the employee who posted a review are often not even known to the rated company. Even then, there is a good chance that reviews can be deleted.

Can I take action against platforms by myself?

We don’t recommend this. The request to the platform to delete an incorrect review must be precise and legally justified. Experience has shown that mistakes made in this phase are later carried through the entire process. In addition, the platforms know no mercy and sometimes fight very fiercely for every review.

See also: “Can’t agencies help me as well?”

What happens if platforms do not voluntarily delete disputed reviews?

If platforms do not respond to disputed reviews or do not respond in good time, they themselves are liable for the illegal content of reviews. They can then be warned and asked to cease and desist. If a platform does not respond to this either, an application can be made to the court for an interim injunction. If the application is successful, a court will prohibit the platform from further disseminating the unlawful review. The costs of the court proceedings must then be borne by the platform.

What are the costs if I take legal action against reviews?

Ideally, you will not incur any costs. Ideally, this means that you win the court case. This is because the opponent must then bear all the costs of the proceedings. If your opponent wins, you will bear their costs and your own. This is the general risk of legal costs, the amount of which depends, among other things, on the value in dispute, which is determined by the court in each individual case. We will be happy to explain the details to you personally. One thing is self-evident for us: we place the interests of our clients at the centre, which also includes their financial interests. That is why we provide you with comprehensive and balanced advice.

What exactly are fake reviews?

Reviews can be “fake” for various reasons.

The classic case is reviews by people who have never had anything to do with the company being reviewed, but claim to have done so in their review. For example, if someone claims about a company “Bad service – bad prices. Next time I’ll go to the competitor” and rates it with one star even though he or she has not used any of the company’s services, this is a fake review.

It is also conceivable that although there is contact with the company, the content of the review is false. One example is the incorrect claim made by a former employee about his employer that toilet visits are recorded by a system and that longer toilet visits have to be justified.

It is also a fake review if an agency that sells reviews to review platforms and comparison portals influences the authors of the reviews and demands that they are only allowed to award four or five stars. Reviews are as well false if the agency requires its testers to rate an item that they were unable to test. For example, Stiftung Warentest discovered that agencies were asking their testers to rate the running characteristics of a pair of trainers, even though the testers were only provided with a photo of the shoes.

A rating is also false if there was a consideration for it, but this is not disclosed in the rating. Such a rating gives the impression of objectivity, which it does not have. It is misleading (see OLG Frankfurt am Main, judgement of 16 May 2019 – Ref. 6 U 14/19).

Finally, it is also considered a fake review if a company commissions an agency to rate a competitor poorly. Such cases are also commonplace.

Note: All examples are based on real cases.

Can’t agencies help me as well?

Our experience shows that many agencies often lack the necessary legal background knowledge. The noticeandtakedown procedure is a specialised legal matter. However, agencies are not allowed to provide legal services.

An agency can therefore only take the first step towards deleting a review. If this attempt fails, an agency is usually no longer able to help. This is when the problems for the company concerned really begin. A failed attempt reduces the chances of success for an out-of-court solution. This is because once the platforms have decided to reject a deletion request, this decision is rarely reversed. The first attempt should therefore definitely be successful.

Which are the most important platforms for the valuation of companies?

Google My Business
Google My Business is probably the most important review portal. In combination with Google Maps, it is becoming increasingly important for practically every company. Google is pushing this service massively and a glance at the USA is enough to estimate the importance that Google My Business will have in Germany in just a few years.

Kununu
Kununu is the largest portal for employees to rate their employers. In times of a shortage of skilled labour, no company can afford to put off prospective employees with false negative reviews. Kununu earns its money primarily by enabling companies to manage their profile on the site. In marketing jargon, this is known as “employer branding”. The costs range from 4,300 euros to around 10,000 euros per year (depending on the scope and size of the company; as of April 2021).

Jameda
The rating portal Jameda is very important for doctors, dentists and therapists. Like some other platforms, Jameda is known to lawyers for its legal proceedings and questionable business model.

As a company, shouldn’t I simply comment on a bad fake review?

No. Platforms like to recommend this. But why should something false be spread further? Companies are also entitled to take legal action against bad press – and they should do the same with fake reviews. Because here, too, something always sticks.

What does the distinction between a statement of fact and an opinion mean for taking action against reviews?

A bad review must be deleted if it contains untrue facts. A review is also inadmissible if it contains formal insults or if the author does not criticise a company or its employees but defames them. Human dignity must also not be violated by the criticism.

It is often difficult to distinguish between statement of fact and an opinion. One example: If the author of a review claims that a dentist’s receptionist is “unfriendly”, they are expressing a – permissible – opinion. However, if the basis of this opinion is not correct because the author has never had anything to do with the receptionist, for example because he is not a patient, then the review contains an untrue statement of fact – and is inadmissible.

The difficulty often lies in the detail: If, for example, it is claimed about a singer that she has ” received a huge shitstorm” because of a post on Instagram, but in fact there were only a few critical reactions to the post, then the claim contains an untrue statement of fact (see OLG Frankfurt am Main, decision of 11 May 201 – Ref. 16 W 8/21).

Can I request information about the anonymous author of false reviews?

Yes, from the platform. According to Section 21 of the TTDSG, the platform must provide information about the inventory data it holds in individual cases. The prerequisite for this is that absolutely protected rights are infringed by illegal content – a so-called qualified infringement.