Court Finds Google Defamed Sex Offender

Suggest function linked his name with 'rapist'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2010 9:32 AM CDT
Court Finds Google Defamed Sex Offender
In this file photo made Jan. 11, 2010, a Google logo is displayed at the National Retail Federation convention in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

Apparently Google’s auto-suggest function—you know, the one that tries to guess what you might be searching for as you type—can commit defamation. The Superior Court of Paris has convicted Google of “public slandering of a private individual” after a convicted sex offender discovered that typing his name in yielded suggestions like “rapist,” “Satanist,” and “prison.”

The man was found guilty of “corruption of a minor,” but in France defendants are presumed innocent until they’ve exhausted their appeals, the Daily Telegraph explains. The court ordered the company to remove the “harmful” suggestions, adopt measures to prevent similar instances, and pay “symbolic” damages of $1.34 (€1), plus $6,700 in court costs. Google, meanwhile, plans to appeal the decision, arguing that its suggestions are determined algorithmically, based on other users’ searches. (More Google stories.)

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