Google under fire over defamation

For the past decade, Google has been the most influential and highly used search engine in the world. Google relies upon patented algorithms to display the ten most relevant search results from their index that directly relate to your query. The question is; are these algorithms working?


Recentlly, a Melbourne based Michael Trkulja won a defamation lawsuit against Google after discovering that its search results were linking him to an underworld figure called Tony Mokbel, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Despite no affiliation to underworld figures, Google search results associated Trkulja with criminals for over three years. A ruling on Google’s damages is due sometime next week. In a similar case, Trkulja was awarded $225,000 in damages by the search engine Yahoo.


Law suits like these are now raising the question of whether Search Engines are to be viewed as publishers of information, rather than distributors. A change like this could potentially open the flood gates to similar cases within Australia.


It seems like an unfortunate error on behalf of Google; however these algorithms can be causing unknown damages to individuals and businesses, unfortunately without being identified for years. This could result in the defamation of your character, or the imputation that your business is involved in things it shouldn’t be.


While Google may wish to retain the image of a Search Engine giant who doesn’t fear legal action, a simple solution to these disputes would be much easier. For example – instead of initiating legal action for the removal of untruthful search results, Google should provide a channel where users are able to provide evidence which conclusively shows that search results are not reflecting the absolute truth. Despite the fact that Google may need to spend more money on customer service staff, it is a much smaller price to pay than defending legal action.


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