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Google's Autocomplete Results In Germany's Former First Lady To Sue Over Defamation

   
4:13 pm on Sep 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



When you search for “Bettina Wulff” on Google, the search engine will happily autocomplete this search with terms like “escort” and “prostitute.” That’s obviously not something you would like to be associated with your name, so the wife of former German president Christian Wulff has now, according to Germany’s Süddeutschen Zeitung, decided to sue Google for defamation. The reason why these terms appear in Google’s autocomplete is that there have been persistent rumors that Wulff worked for an escort service before she met her husband. Wulff categorically denies that this is true.Google's Autocomplete Results In Germany's Former First Lady To Sue Over Defamation [techcrunch.com]
German’s former first lady now wants to ensure that Google stops autocompleting searches for her name with these terms. The rumors, she claims according to the German newspaper’s report, are “defamation” and have “destroyed her reputation.” For the most part, of course, Google suggestions just reflect how widespread these rumors are on the Internet. Google’s algorithms, after all, make these suggestions based on its analysis of what the majority of Internet users search for.
4:28 pm on Sep 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Auto complete , whilst being very irritating, has always been a very good way to see what "the average person" is searching for..and as such, a very good source of EMD ideas ;)..and domain or page subject themes ;), subjects that already have traffic, waiting to land..a little research , and one can be waiting to catch it ;)..

Tangential to the subject, but a truism anyway , and worth bearing in mind for many..
4:43 pm on Sep 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It's just as important for the average person as well as higher profile people that such queries don't reflect badly. Think about the average person going for a job interview and the prospective employer searching and finding distasteful autocomplete search terms.
5:01 pm on Sep 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



I think we have another entrant in the category of "Members of the government-- or, in this case, their spouses-- are fundamentally clueless about how the Internet works."

Is she asking for the autocomplete function to be eliminated?
For it to use a different algorithm only for her name?
For it to detour via a list of Names of Public Figures and disable auto-complete for anything on the list? Next stop: Lawsuits from people who want to be-- or don't want to be-- treated as public figures. And from people who have the same name as someone else-- a group which surely includes most of the planet.
For auto-complete only to use positive words? (You reading this, Mr Orwell?)

A prospective employer who lets the behavior of a search engine influence their hiring decisions deserves everything they get.
5:17 pm on Sep 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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although it's not really google's fault, can they really claim innocence here?

just because everyone else is spreading the rumour, that doesn't mean that google can too. if your neighbour repeats the rumour, then who cares. but google is not your neighbour. google has millions of "readers". so when google repeats it millions of people will become aware of it.

in a way, it's not much different than a newspaper repeating it. they have the same reach and influence.

what is the alternative? if you say it's okay then you are basically giving google license to print whatever they like about anyone, whether it is true or not. they won't even have to check the facts.
5:29 pm on Sep 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



if you say it's okay then you are basically giving google license to print whatever they like about anyone,


That "licence" they already took, they didn't wait to be given it..

whether it is true or not. they won't even have to check the facts.


They don't fact check now..

But it has to be said that politicians ( and their spouses count as politicians too the moment they accompany them on public engagements or trips, paid for with public money ) should not have the right to censor anything about themselves in media..

Many things that they deny and or sue about, prove later to have been true..this may yet in years to come prove to be the case here ..or.. it may indeed be proven not to be true..

But..

If they can't take the heat ..they should not expect to be paid to be in the kitchen, even if it is only getting a "free entrance" because they are on the arm of their spouse..if they don't like the colour of the limelight, stay away from the public stage..
2:53 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



@londrum quite repeating slander or libel is an offence. Just becuase some Google users (those who think Negro should be spelt with two g's) use an ethnic slur to refer to say the First lady - doesn't mean that google sould repeat it and expect to get away with it.

Imagins a newspaper saying well some of our readers are racist so we can use racist language in our headlines.
5:07 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Autosuggest does not only show what other people are searching for but also as the names of the feature implies makes a suggestion what you could look for.

If someone types in "former first lady name" he might have no intention of looking for any rumours about escort or prostitution - because he never heard of them but only get the idea from the auto suggest feature.