60 Japanese Doctors Sue Google Over Negative Reviews on Maps

Japanese doctors sue Google over negative reviews they can't respond to due to patient confidentiality, highlighting the challenges of online reputation management for medical professionals.

Bijay Laxmi
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60 Japanese Doctors Sue Google Over Negative Reviews on Maps

60 Japanese Doctors Sue Google Over Negative Reviews on Maps

In a groundbreaking lawsuit, around 60 Japanese doctors have filed a class-action case against Google, seeking 1.4 million yen (approximately $9,400) in damages over the tech giant's alleged inaction on vitriolic reviews posted about their clinics on Google Maps.

The doctors claim they are unable to respond to the negative reviews due to patient confidentiality obligations.

The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind in Japan targeting a platform over negative online reviews, alleges that Google has failed to remove slanderous reviews that have damaged the doctors' reputations and caused them distress. The plaintiffs argue that the ease with which these reviews can be posted has made it extremely challenging to get them removed, leading to doctors constantly fearing harsh criticism.

Yuichi Nakazawa, the plaintiffs' lawyer, stated, "It has become extremely challenging to get these reviews taken down, and this can lead to doctors working under the constant fear of receiving horrible reviews." The doctors maintain that their objective is not to satisfy patients but to deal with their illnesses professionally, and that the nature of their job can sometimes leave them susceptible to online criticism by disgruntled patients.

Google has stated that it is working to reduce misleading or false information on its platform, using a combination of human and technological resources to delete fraudulent reviews. The company said it protects business profiles around the clock to remove unjust reviews. However, the plaintiffs acknowledge that while Google does remove certain reviews based on its own criteria, they consider the process unclear.

Why this matters: This case highlights the significant challenges faced by medical professionals in Japan, who are often unable to respond to or refute defamatory reviews without breaching patient confidentiality. The lawsuit also underscores the growing concern over the impact of online reviews on businesses and the responsibility of platforms like Google in moderating user-generated content.

The doctors involved in the lawsuit argue that their aim is to hold Google accountable for its inaction over these negative reviews, which they claim can ultimately do a disservice to society if left unaddressed. As the case progresses, it is expected to shed light on the delicate balance between free speech, patient confidentiality, and the role of online platforms in managing user reviews.

Key Takeaways

  • Around 60 Japanese doctors file lawsuit against Google over negative online reviews.
  • Doctors seek $9,400 in damages, alleging Google's inaction on slanderous reviews.
  • Lawsuit claims reviews have damaged doctors' reputations and caused them distress.
  • Google says it uses human and technological resources to remove unjust reviews.
  • Case highlights challenges of medical professionals responding to defamatory reviews.