How will Vietnamese food cope with toxic TikTok?

By Duc Thanh   December 20, 2022 | 04:39 pm PT
How will Vietnamese food cope with toxic TikTok?
Platters of food on a table. Illustration photo by Pixabay
Is it acceptable for YouTubers and TikTokers to use images of restaurants without their permission to profit from videos that disparage said eateries?

A YouTuber with a million followers walks into a pho restaurant. He looks at the surroundings before ordering a bowl of pho, eating it, and paying.

He comments on every aspect of the experience: the location, atmosphere, price, taste and quality. He surveys the owner and staff's attitudes towards him to determine how welcoming the place is.

Thousands of people like and comment on this guy's video. Many applaud him for "fair" reviews.

However, the video was highly derogatory of the pho shop in question.

So the shop owner got angry and accused the YouTuber of wanting to ruin the shop's reputation and business.

Surprisingly, a significant number of netizens supported and defended the YouTuber. They believe that each customer has the right to evaluate and comment on the quality of the received products and services. They criticized the restaurant owner for "not accepting the truth and responding in an impolite manner."

This is just one example of the many "conflicts" that exist between business owners and reviewers.

First, let's not talk about whether the content of the YouTuber's review is right or wrong. I will begin by discussing the legality of his action. Without the owner's permission, does he have the right to publicly evaluate and disparage that restaurant?

Many comments claim that since the YouTuber is also a customer who uses products and services, he has every right to rate them. Admittedly, in accordance with the Law on Protection of Consumer Rights, consumers have the right to voice their opinions to businesses (and people who provide goods and services) about prices, the value of goods and services, the manner in which they are provided, how transactions are conducted, and other related issues.

However, many reviewers have crossed the line between being a customer with the right to evaluate products and illegally using the images of other people's products to create their own content and then profiting from it.

While the law protects consumers, it also safeguards businesspeople. As customers, it is normal for TikTokers and YouTubers to sometimes feel unsatisfied with a particular service. But they should bear in mind that their negative reviews could harm other people’s businesses significantly. Not to mention that there is no guarantee as to who is right or wrong in such circumstances, since the information reported in such videos is greatly influenced by the recorder's emotions. Many reviewers even edit their videos and language to produce content that can mislead viewers.

Even in a legal dispute, after submitting the case to the court, both parties must still undergo numerous legal procedures. These include the court of first instance, the court of appeal, the court of cassation, and, if necessary, a retrial. But these TikTokers give themselves the right to judge others based solely on their food-review videos. How can they compensate for all the damages they have caused to other businesses? In business, prestige is of the utmost importance. Once you have lost people's trust, it's virtually impossible to regain it. Can you imagine how ridiculously difficult it is for businesspeople to regain their credibility and reputation once tarnished?

For eateries, restaurants, and hotels, there are already star ratings systems and reviews from customers on the many apps that serve to place orders and make reservations. Through these credible apps, customers can understand the quality and staff attitude of the places they want to visit. Thus, there is no need for additional edited and scripted food-review videos.

Even if a restaurant is not available on an online app for review, it must still meet the standards of its customers, because "bad news travels fast," as the saying goes. When a store stays open for business over time, it means that a number of customers are still interested in using its products and services. If the food is of poor taste and quality, or if the staff is unfriendly, the number of customers will decline gradually. In order to continue their business, the owners will have to alter these practices, or otherwise close the store for good.

Some owners of restaurants and shops do commit wrongdoings. But even so, reviewers do not have the right to ruin others' businesses. Any misconduct of shop owners and staff must be dealt with in accordance with the law, not the reviewer's subjective opinion.

The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress's viewpoints. Send your opinions here.
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