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In Australia, users who leave one-star reviews on businesses are increasingly being sued for defamation

Several cases are popping up each year.
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Australian telecom company Optus has been ordered by a court to reveal the identity of a user who posted a negative Google review on a dental business.

The dentist from Melbourne, Matthew Kabbabe, claims the review has harmed his business and is, therefore, filing a defamation suit.

The search for the negative reviewer, going by CBsm 23, began by suing Google. The tech giant would only divulge that the user was a customer of Optus.

Now, Optus has been subpoenaed to provide the identity of the reviewer. With the identity of the person, Mr. Kabbabe’s legal team, led by Mark Stanarevic of Matrix Legal, can effectively proceed with filing the defamation suit. The Federal Court requires Optus to respond by June 17.

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The review, which was posted about six months ago, was removed. Without it, Dr. Kabbabe’s Google My Business page has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.

Optus refused to comment on this issue.

According to ABC News, other businesses are attempting to unmask anonymous negative reviewers. On June 4, Google was again ordered by the Federal Court to submit details that could help identify a user who posted a negative review on Zarah Garde-Wilson’s law business.

Also represented by Matrix Legal, Ms. Garde-Wilson claims she was defamed by a Google user going by Mohamed Ahmed. According to the lawyer, neither her nor her law firm, Garde Wilson Criminal Lawyers, has ever represented anyone called Mohamed Ahmed.

“My practice has never acted for a Mohamed Ahmed and we have forwarded this review to the Google investigations team to be removed,” was her reply to the negative review.

Mr. Stanarevic said that her client believes that a competing firm posted the anonymous review. If that is proved to be accurate, the competitor will face misleading and deceptive conduct charges under the consumer laws of Australia.

Another business claiming defamation from a Google review is Melbourne Gold Company. However, the owner, Mr. Michael Kukulka, said that Google argued that the negative reviewers did not violate the company’s terms of service.

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