Turkey: Damage to reputation vs. freedom of opinion - What can be done against bad reviews on the Internet under Turkish law?

When is a negative company review in Turkey to be classified as unlawful?

In principle, in accordance with the provisions on unfair competition of the Turkish Commercial Act, misleading or unfair business activities that influence the relationship between the supplier and consumer are unlawful. A misleading or unfair business act exists, in particular, if a company or its brand, products, prices, activities or business acts are defamed by false, misleading or offensive statements. This means that negative company reviews that are not justified, or are untrue, misleading, offensive or defamatory or lead to another person having a competitive advantage or disadvantage over the company in question are unlawful. If the defamation is intentional, then the author of the negative business review also becomes liable to prosecution.

What measures can be taken against unlawful reviews?

If reviews on Google are negative, you can try to have them deleted by Google for the time being. If the negative company review was published using another medium, then the correction or deletion may be demanded in accordance with the provisions of the Press Act, unless the deletion would violate freedom of expression. For example, if the negative company review is done in an Internet forum, it is not possible just to delete this one review, but all other comments would also have to be deleted. Apart from that, the following steps can be performed to clear a negative business review.

  • Action for unfair competition to determine the existence of unfair competition, deletion of the negative company review, compensation for damages and, if necessary, compensation for pain and suffering, if the negative company review has had a negative effect on the applicant's personal rights.
  • Application to the chambers for criminal matters of the district courts for cancellation of the negative business review or blocking of access to the review.

Can you buy positive fake reviews as a company?

There is no precedent in this regard so far; these circumstances have not yet been assessed in the literature either. However, the acquisition of positive fake reviews could also be an unfair business act within the meaning of the provisions on unfair competition.

A fake review is viewed as unfair advertising, through which the relationship between the supplier and consumer is influenced or through which a party hopes to obtain a competitive advantage over competitor companies.

Autor: Senem Kathrin Güçlüer