Hotel checks out Google, sues search engine for defamation

June 15th, 2011 4 Comments By Paul Smith

People say some pretty mean things on the intermaweb, but is Google Instant really capable of defamation? It’s a series of algorithms that indexes user-generated content. It suggests search results out of relevance, not spite. The results will occasionally raise an eyebrow, but that’s not through human-imposed will or conspiracy.

The Ballymascanlon Hotel, in Ireland thinks otherwise, however, and is suing Google for defamation. The issue is that should a user search for the hotel on Google, the second auto-completed search term for the hotel involves the word ‘receivership’:

Picture 6 Hotel checks out Google, sues search engine for defamation

While the hotel is panicking that guests may think the plug is about to be pulled on the venue, completing the search and checking the results finds no such evidence. Still, it can’t be good for business, so why is the hotel taking Google to court instead of asking them nicely to remove the term?

Because the owner has already has asked Google nicely. Twice. The hotel eventually received a standard response from Google, to the effect that the auto-complete term would remain intact.

The hotel may have the upper hand, however, because it won’t be the first time Google has been sued about suggested search suggestions. In Italy, a man’s name was wrongly linked with ‘con man’ and ‘fraud’, while in France, Google Instant accused a man of being a ‘rapist’ and ‘satanist’. Google lost in both cases.

[The Argus]

Comments (4) Jump to most recent comment
  1. Posted by Dick June 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    It’s in Ireland. Isn’t the whole country in receivership?

  2. Posted by Lord Runcie's left bogey June 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    By kicking off about this, surely the hotel owners have only increased the number of times these three words are searched for together in Google…

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=5a5619f9a0be1a2b&hl=en

  3. Posted by The Real Bob June 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I typed mother and the second response was mother fucker, so I sued them for being derogatory about my mum. Not really, they removed all rude words a while ago.

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