Anyone who has any experience of dealing with children knows that they spend half their times being inseparable, and the other half wanting to kill each other and threatening to tell you every single minor indiscretion that their siblings/cousins/friends have done, or might have done, or threatened to do, or are imagined to have done in the hope that they will get each other into trouble, probably to disguise their own wrongdoing.

Most carers of children will have stock answers.  My mother’s was “I’m not interested in what he did, what did you do!” demonstrating her shrewd and accurate assessment that I was almost certainly as much if not more to blame, than my brother, although it didn’t stop me from trying.

We were all an open book – our parents almost always knew what we were up to and mostly they knew how to deal with it.

These days it’s not so easy.  With so much information being shared on social media which parents cannot easily access, are the children of today as much of an open book as was the case when I was a child.  My parents might assume that with all the information available on the internet, there would be no hiding place, but actually the opposite is true.  Even if you know who has the information, there is no guarantee that it will be provided to you.

Some recent victims of dodgy reviews on TrustPilot wanted to track down who had left the reviews, and take action against them, presumably for defamation.  However, unless you know who they are, that’s a very difficult claim to pursue.  The only option in the recent situation was to seek an order that Google reveal information relating to the Gmail accounts from where the reviews had been generated.  Google resisted, and the Court refused to grant the order.  The criteria under which Google could be forced to reveal confidential information is very specific, and the Claimants didn’t meet that criteria.  Unlike children, adults have more and more ability to be rude to each other and get away with it by hiding their identities.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the legal position is, the reality is that it will further undermine the validity of review sites.  If whoever is leaving reviews doesn’t have to provide any information to verify that they are who they say they are, and that their reviews are genuine, then all reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt.  In the same way that my mother never automatically took my word for anything (or that of my brother come to that) and relied instead on evidence (he’s the one crying, not you, so I’m fairly sure that you hit him not the other way around!), we will have to form our own opinions or rely on the opinions of those we know and trust before taking too much notice of what we read on line from random strangers, some of whom are likely to have an ulterior motive!

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  The full service law firm.  Now with free parenting advice.