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If I Blogged in Taiwan, I’d Probably Be in Jail Right Now

June 24, 2011

On Tuesday, a high court in Taiwan sentenced a blogger by the name of Liu t0 30 days in jail plus two years of probation, and ordered her to pay NT$200,000 (approx US$7000) in compensation.  Her crime?  Writing that the food served at a restaurant was too salty, among other things.

From an article in the Taipei News:

After visiting a Taichung beef noodle restaurant in July 2008, where she had dried noodles and side dishes, Liu wrote that the restaurant served food that was too salty, the place was unsanitary because there were cockroaches and that the owner was a “bully” because he let customers park their cars haphazardly, leading to traffic jams.

The restaurant owner claimed that the review harmed his business, because people were calling to find out whether the review was accurate. He is hoping that the conviction will “teach [the blogger] a lesson”.

The judge in the case stated that Liu was not justified in calling the food “too salty” overall, because she had only eaten dried noodles and two side dishes – not enough to make such a sweeping generalization.  The High Court also ruled that the cockroach comments were not intentionally libelous, but rather a recitation of fact; however, the local health department stated that the restaurant was not as unsanitary as Liu claimed, which led the court to award damages in the amount of NT$200,000 for resulting lost revenues.

Again, from the article:

Huang Cheng-lee (黃呈利), a lawyer in Taichung, said that bloggers who post food reviews should remember to be truthful in their commentary and supplement their comments with photographs to protect themselves. He also said bloggers should be objective and fair in their writing.

I think we can all learn something from this case: blogging is no fun in Taiwan.

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