Online Restaurant Reviews Lead to Arrest of British Expatriate

When one-star reviews go too far

Thumbs down on keyboard
A series of bad online reviews had wide-ranging consequences.
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If you spend enough time reading reviews of bars, restaurants and coffee shops, you’ll eventuallly encounter evaluations that are less reviews than diatribes. There are plenty of reasons why an establishment might have earned those low marks, but countless reviews give the strong impression that the reviewer might be the problem, rather than the restaurant they’ve targeted.

How an establishment reacts to this can vary wildly. One business decided to have some fun with its bad reviews, for instance. And then there’s the case of an Italian restaurant in Thailand that faced a deluge of bad online reviews — and wound up seeking legal redress for the issue.

Earlier this month, The Phuket News reported on the arrest of a British man named Alexander in Thailand. The details of the story suggest a rapidly escalating situation: in 2022, Alexander was renting a room and found it convenient to walk through the restaurant to get there, as opposed to taking a longer route. The restaurant’s owners saw it differently, asking Alexander to take the other route. Shortly after that, the bad online reviews for the restaurant began.

The restaurant filed a complaint, and that’s what led to Alexander’s arrest this year. The legal charge involves “entering false information” with the intention of causing damage to another party. The Phuket News also noted that the arrest did not meet the definition of defamation.

What leads someone to post angry one-star reviews in the first place? Writing at Slate, Kevin M. Kearney wrote of the appeal of reading some of the most bizarre aspects of the form: “They’re part obscured confessional, part accidental poetry, containing writing that has been liberated from distractions like narrative, punctuation, and coherence.”

And evidently, if you go too far with them in Thailand, you might wind up behind bars. It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.


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