Anonymous Reviews
Anonymous Reviews

Many Google reviews are submitted without using real names. Regardless of whether a clear name is provided with the review, there are numerous ways to have such reviews removed, and this is often more successful than responding to the review. Other platforms also frequently feature anonymous reviews. Some platforms, such as the job platform Kununu, even advertise the ability for employees and applicants to submit anonymous reviews.

Higher Regional Court (OLG) Hamburg on Anonymous Reviews

On Kununu, users evaluate their (former) employers or companies where they have applied. Kununu's business model revolves around receiving anonymous reviews. Only an email address is required to submit a review, and this email address is not disclosed publicly.

An employer on Kununu received the following review:

"There is no praise or recognition here, let alone appreciation. With luck, the management throws a 'Good morning' at you as they pass by in the morning; otherwise, you are pushed to work quickly and make no mistakes. // Female employees/applicants were sometimes asked about their family planning. The consequences of the answer remain unclear... // Supervisory behavior deserves a failing grade! You are just a number. Empathy is a foreign concept. // Outdated technology. Used computers instead of modern equipment. // It's a cold warehouse without insulation. In winter, it's only 17-19 degrees Celsius. I constantly froze and was given a partially functional heated mat. // Employees were trusted 0.0."

However, the OLG Hamburg in interim proceedings decided that the platform operator must disclose the identity of reviewers if the employer cannot otherwise verify whether there was indeed a business contact with the person. The platform operator alone cannot make this verification. In response to the employer's complaint that there was no business contact, the platform operator received a proof of activity from the employee and presented it in anonymized form. However, the court found this insufficient.

Are Anonymous Reviews Prohibited?

There is now widespread discussion that anonymous reviews are no longer permissible. However, this is not the court's statement. The OLG merely believes that, if the platform operator refuses to delete the review, the identity must be disclosed so that the subject of the review can ascertain whether a business relationship truly existed. Google reviews can also be deleted if it can be convincingly shown that there was no business relationship with the reviewer.

Austria: Supreme Court (OGH) on Anonymous Reviews

In the case of the teacher review app "Lernsieg," the OGH ruled that the risk of misuse in the teacher app was not so significant that the restriction of the freedom of opinion and information for all app users would be justified. Specifically, the OGH stated:

"To the extent that a risk of misuse is seen in the fact that (the plaintiff's own) students give lower ratings for unsound reasons, such as annoyance, than their own assessment would suggest, this does not lead to a predominance of the plaintiff's anonymity interests. Unsound motivations of individual reviewers cannot be fundamentally avoided by the design of the app. Rather, even unsoundly motivated value judgments are covered by the freedom of expression, as long as there is no excessive evaluation."


In Germany, the OLG Hamburg's decision regarding Kununu is viewed critically, especially considering there is also Federal Court of Justice (BGH) jurisprudence that can be interpreted differently. For companies negatively reviewed on any platform, it is crucial to clearly explain to the platform and, if necessary, rely on the lack of business contact


Do you have additional questions about reviews?

If you have further inquiries on this topic and wish to have a review deleted or seek legal advice in other areas of data protection law or IT law, our law firm specializes in these and other legal fields. Please feel free to contact our office at office@geuer.at or by phone at +43-1-4380072. We look forward to receiving your inquiry.

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