Trip Advisor Review Almost Leads to Jail-time in Thailand

Kaelin, News Editor

When Weasley Barnes left a negative review at the Sea View Chang resort in Thailand the last thing he expected would be facing the consequence of prison. Barnes, an American guest who traveled through Thailand as a teacher could have faced serious jail time for leaving a review that was considered part of “a campaign of defamation” and “bullying” against the Sea View resort. Barnes was arrested on September 11th, 2020 after spending weeks ignoring warnings by the hotel managers to discuss his review that they considered to be harassing and offensive. Now, Barnes is taking back all that was said on his negative review, but why?

Barnes’ review consisted of criticizing the hotel for charging him a $15 alcohol fee, and also noted that he felt that the hotel manager had been very aggressive. The review, found on TripAdvisor, soon became the potential source of the downfall of Barnes’ life and the reputation of the resort. 

A police report was filed against Barnes by the hotel accusing him of knowingly attempting to damage the reputation of the hotel, noting that negative reviews were still up on Trip Advisor. Barnes was later arrested by the immigration police and spent 2 nights in jail before being released on bail. Now, with all charges being dropped by the hotel, the public is wondering what happened. Was a settlement reached between the two parties? 

Barnes’s statement released in early October states that he takes back everything that was written in his review, his statements were untrue, and he was writing from a place of anger. He also wrote to news outlets covering the story to state that he was the one in the wrong, and retracting his comments

The dispute has since been ended through a settlement, but the event raises serious concerns about the defamation laws in Thailand. Many human rights activists have been critics, referring to them as a form of “censorship” and alleging that they favor large businesses. It is still unclear what will happen with these laws, but for now both parties are suffering consequences of a single bad review.