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...the court finds that under Oklahoma law, protected speech -- in this case PageRanks -- cannot give rise to a claim of tortious interference with contractual relations because it cannot be considered wrongful, even if the speech is motivated by hatred or ill will.
A "creative lawyer" apparently talked Bob Massa out of some cash, but didn't sway the judge in this case. :p
I'm sure Google has the right to accept or reject advertising on their own site.
Yes they do, and they demonstrated it again last week by refusing to allow Adwords from a lady wanting to highlight problems with a UK electrical store.
The issue I see is that Google promotes the fact that their SERPs are mathematically based and not subject to human influence. This is plainly not true, they even admitted it in the documents submitted for the SK case.
Is it not time Google came clean and adjusted Google.com to reflect the fact that Google results are not totally mathematically based and are subject to "human" intervention? In fact they are just an opinion of Google, Inc. and should be taken in that light?
The process of calculating PageRanks is objective. The subjectivity comes in at two places. First, the outcome strongly depends on the input data. The set of pages crawled in each update cycle is different and selected subjectively (for all we know it could be selected at random). This means that the exact PageRank of a specific page will never be the same from one month to the next, despite the objective and reproducible process. And second, those "naturally" oscillating results can still be tweaked manually after they have been calculated, adding yet another layer of subjectivity.
The court was confused about the finer distinctions between PageRank and SERP rankings. But that distinction is really irrelevant for the train of thought applied. The accepted arguments and their logical conclusions will be very hard to turn around by anyone trying to file a similar suit in the future.
roundabout's point about providing access to info and not simply commenting on content or pages- is well taken. It's one thing to claim protection for editorial speech. It will be another thing if Google's popularity continues to dominate and further shortcomings of its algo are revealed to cause harm. [unlikely but possible]
Take the case of media consolidation to the extreme... if all our radio stations or all the presses tend to be controlled by a very few number of entities (1-3 conglomerates) and they have very particular guidelines of what constitutes "news" and what issues they won't publish or release (or get buried somewhere), there are legitimate concerns of harm. It's the whole control the data, control the flow of knowledge thing...
Most of us here already have access to other sources online or elsewhere. However, I'm positive we don't represent Joe or Jane Q. Citizen. And to be fair, other search engine industry watchers aren't too concerned about the Google thing because they believe the competition will keep Google honest. We'll see.
The latter implies an overall objectivity that in reality just isn't there.
I completely disagree. People understand that an algorithm doesn't just write itself, and as such, every single algo will reflect the innate biases of its coder. The algorithm is 100% objective in applying and ranking sites based on these biases. As such the term "algorithmic results" is about as accurate as you can get.