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- Context (TH): Malayalam director approached the Kerala High Court seeking a gag on social media and YouTube reviews following a film’s release to protect it from review bombing.
- It is being claimed that review bombing threatens the industry’s financial stability.
- Review bombing is the act of posting numerous negative reviews, often coordinated, to harm the reputation of a product, service, or content.
- Mainly linked to media and entertainment, review bombing extends to other areas like online marketplaces, apps, and businesses.
- It can be done for various reasons, such as:
- Protest or grievance
- Promote competitors’ product
- Personal vendettas
- Social or political motivations
Freedom of Expression
- Freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution.
- It states that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression, subject to certain reasonable restrictions.
Key Elements of Freedom of Expression
- It is solely available to a citizen of India, not to a foreign national.
- It includes the right to express one’s views and opinions about any issue.
- It includes the right to express in any medium, such as by words, writing, printing, etc.
- This right is not absolute; GoI can impose reasonable restrictions in cases which involve:
- Sovereignty and integrity of India
- Security of the state
- Friendly relations with foreign nations
- Public order, decency and morality
- Contempt of court
- Defamation and incitement to an offence.
Reasons Why Review Bombing Should be Protected as Part of Freedom of Expression
- To hold businesses and creators accountable
- To raise consumer awareness
- To hold as a protest against powerful businesses and creators
Reasons Why Restrictions on Review Bombing is Not Violation of Freedom of Expression
- It can misled consumers seeking accurate information.
- It can unfairly harm the reputation and livelihood of creators, businesses, or developers.
- Coordinated review bombing can suppress the genuine opinions of users.
- It is susceptible to manipulation by trolls, competitors, or individuals with malicious intent.
- Prolonged and widespread review bombing can erode trust in online review systems.
- Review bombers often escape accountability, making addressing this practice’s misuse difficult.
- There is a grey area between review bombing and freedom of expression.
- If review bombing is motivated by genuine reasons, it can be a form of freedom of expression.
- But if review bombing is motivated by malicious intent, it misuses freedom of expression.
- So, the interests of creators, businesses, etc., should be protected from review bombing but not at the cost of freedom of expression. So, a proper regulatory body is the need of the hour.