Chinese buffet may sue woman for falsely claiming on Facebook that it had maggots

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Hot LinksHot LinksWe spend way too much time on the internet

Many of us have the tendency to vent online if we’ve had an unfortunate restaurant experience, whether to the public on Yelp or to our friends on Facebook. Sometimes in our rage over a dinner that took forever or similar, we forget that the faceless restaurant is actually run by people—and very likely, people who aren’t raking in the cash. Also important to remember: The internet is forever, and libel laws exist for a reason, and truth matters, even in a Facebook post.

Case in point: Great Wall restaurant in Kokomo, Indiana saw a steep drop in business after a customer “posted a debunked claim on Facebook alleging she found maggots inside a napkin dispenser” at the establishment, says the Kokomo Tribune. The woman also contacted the health department.

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The health department visited the restaurant the next day, and discovered that the “maggots” were “actually paper fibers from napkins that had been in the dispensers before,” according to an official report. Nevertheless, it appears the damage has been done, and now Great Wall is planning to file a lawsuit. Great Wall’s lawyer said the restaurant “has suffered irreparable damage to its business interests” as “the post had been shared more than 500 times” by the woman’s Facebook friends and followers. Hard to put that genie back in the bottle.

The woman has tried to make amends, writing a public letter to Great Wall in which she says she is “mortified”: “I understand that making the post on Facebook was not the right thing to do, and I’m sorry… Looking back, however, I can clearly see that I didn’t think things through before I made my Facebook post.” Video from the restaurant apparently shows the woman looking closely at the napkin dispenser, and then going right back to the buffet.

As Shan Lin, a Great Wall manager for more than 15 years, summed up the situation to Kokomo Tribune: “People think they can say anything over Facebook… The damage has been made. It’s still there, still continuing. And it’s hard for me to forgive.” That woman may definitely be paying the price for her impulsive action in court, so again: Think twice (perhaps a third time) before you post, people. Take a deep breath? Sleep on it? Perhaps delete your social media and take a walk?

Read more about this story in the Kokomo Tribune.

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About the author

Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.