Should Social Media Be Held Accountable for User Actions?

Google Case in Italy Has Serious Implications for the Web

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Update: A court document from the judge in this case has been released indicating that the for profit factor of YouTube is what makes this a crime.  A Google representative is quoted as saying:

“We are reading the full 111-page document from the judge. But as we said when the verdict was announced, this conviction attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. If these principles are swept aside, then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear. These are important points of principle, which is why we and our employees will vigorously appeal this decision.”

Original Article:
A judge in Milan, Italy has convicted three Google executives over a video uploaded to YouTube in a case, which could have serious implications for social media and ultimately, the web in general, at least in Italy. The video, uploaded back in 2006, featured a group of school kids bullying an autistic child. Google says it worked with Italian authorities to help ID the person responsible for uploading it, and the uploader and other participants from the video were sentenced to community service.

Now, in 2010, Google executives David Drummond, Peter Fleischer and George Reyes(3 out of 4 defendants) have been convicted for “failure to comply with the Italian privacy code.” They were all found not guilty of criminal defamation.

Should these Google execs be held accountable? Comment here.

“In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload,” writes Matt Sucherman, VP and Deputy General Counsel – Europe, Middle East and Africa on the Google Blog. “We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question.”

This is a case of a business being held accountable for user-generated content. Isn’t the entire web generated by users? What if Google’s search engine (algorithmically) indexed something illegal. Should company execs be penalized, even if they comply with authorities’ requests for removal of such content? Ask yourself these questions:

–  What if YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. had to shut down because it couldn’t control the things users post?

– What if every blogging platform had to do the same?

– What if you went to jail for comments posted on your blog?

You’re not likely going to go to jail for comments posted on your blog, but the point is, that by allowing people to post comments on your blog, you are allowing user-generated content, that you can’t necessarily control until after it’s been posted, unless you don’t let them go live until approving them. Google is being held accountable for content that users uploaded, which was not in their control until after the fact. YouTube users upload 20 hours of video every minute, according to Google.

You can see why this case is much bigger than just the specific instance it involves. The case is subject to appeal, but if it is not overturned, what will this mean for the web? Tell us what you think.

“The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police,” says Sucherman.

“To be clear, none of the four Googlers charged had anything to do with this video,” he says. “They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video’s existence until after it was removed.”

He goes on to talk about how the case “attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built,” also mentioning that European Union law dictates that hosting providers have a safe harbor from liability as long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. “If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear,” Sucherman says.


Ruling in Italy Could have serious implications on social media uploading and user-generated content 

If rulings such as the one against these Google execs were to become commonplace, how much do you think that would affect the social media industry? Companies like Google, Facebook, MySpace, etc. couldn’t let users upload content, which essentially means social media couldn’t exist. User-generated content couldn’t exist. How could you blog? How could you leave a status update on Facebook, or upload a family photo to Picasa? There is always the possibility that some user could make a death threat or upload child porn, so if the companies behind the services that were used to commit these crimes were held accountable, how could their businesses continue?

That’s why Google is not only upset about the ruling against its executives, but calls it a “serious threat to the web.”

Should Google (or any other site) be held responsible for content that users upload (even when said content is removed)? Share your thoughts.

Should Social Media Be Held Accountable for User Actions?
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  • http://www.nooksurfer.com NookSurfer

    Wow…the sentence they’ve received is just too extreme for the situation. It would warrant a public announcement/apology of some sort…but jail time?

  • http://socialheads.com Joe

    I think it’s absurd to punish a website owner for someone else’s content. Doing so would ruin not only social media but all viral aspects of internet marketing.

  • http://www.logarithmicimpact.com Joseph Mann

    This court ruling is absolutely ridiculous and just shows how the courts and politicians (in any country) are clueless when it comes to social media/user-generated content. The legal codes need to be seriously updated to join the 21st century or all of us will be the poorer for it.

  • http://www.mycircles.com MyCircles

    In Italy as in the US, too often there are lawsuits or criminal prosecutions that have no merit such as this one. In my humble opinion, it sounds like someone in Italy has a political agenda in mind and is trying to make an example out of the Google defendants.

    Fortunatelly for every internet user, and entrepreneur, Google has billions of dollars to spend in defending and appealing this lawsuit. In the end, I believe this will bring about some kind of unification in the EU with respects to the responsibility of the online providers, users and consumers.

    In the end, if this decision is not overturned, the real losers will be the Italian internet consumers. Any web domain can block specific traffic from accessing its content and a temporary solution that online entities can resort to is to block all traffic from Italy until this law suit is resolved. Who would then loose out? The Italian people and every Italian company that has a web presence.

  • YouKiddingMe

    If *I* were Google, I’d shut down ALL access to Google(.com,.it,gmail,etc..) services from Italy. This is JUST in case something else violated Italian law.

    Watch how fast they change their stance, especially as they are not even following EU rules.

    Let’s not EVEN get into the fact that the videos were posted before Google had even completed the purchase of YouTube! That’s ignoring the blatant stupidity of the charges to begin with!

    Totally absurd!

  • Keith

    I agree with My Circles that this sounds fishy from a legal standpoint. It would be interesting to hear more about the judge’s reasoning in making such a decision, especially given that Google cooperated with authorities in removing the video and identifying the perpetrators.

  • dwork

    I can see two possibilities – 1) Social networks simply make themselves unavailable in countries that don’t provide a safe harbor (businesses first have to protect their own interests before the interests of their users), or 2) Pay for upload, which in turn pays for reviewer jobs and eliminates “real time” uploads. That would ultimately mean the end of ALL interactive sites as we know them. Its not hard albeit onerous for webmasters of small sites to review comments before posting, but to require pre-authorization for everything posted by users is beyond ridiculous.

    Consider — classified ads, blog comments, opinions like this, community bulletin boards, Craigs List, E-Bay … Option #1 would probably be the course of least cost and least resistance, essentially eliminating access to any interactive Internet site for residents of countries that don’t protect service providers from the actions of their users.

    • Ryan Kempf

      Its Really sad the Internet could be fun and safe but some poeople choose to treat it like a back alley and LET ANYTHING GO ON IF THAT IS THE CASE is the internet really safe?????

  • kesseljunkie

    This is like something out of an Ayn Rand novel — social parenting by a/the government so absurd it’s almost impossible to believe.

    • Ryan Kempf

      integerty a lost art I think so if Social Networks want to keep their integerty and remain popular they must know what goes on on their respective Network those that let just anything on their website then they will lose popularity

  • Ryan Kempf

    Lets say you have a apartments and their are bad things going on there the Landlord should make him or herself aware of the situation least they be held accountable same way with Social networks they must keep check on things going on because they should be held accountable if and they don’t know the activity going on on their site then they are just plan irresponsible on their that

    • Guest

      Landlords do not have the right to intrude on their tenants privacy. They can not control what is going on behind closed doors and most of the time have not a clue what is going on. Why would you hold them accountable?

      The people who are doing wrong are the ones that should be held accountable. Do not take it out on the innocent ones trying to make a living!

      Social Networks are providing us with connectivity to others around the world and they can not monitor everyone out there. They are trying to earn a living and provide us a service. If someone is doing something wrong or illegal then they should be punished and not the Social Network provider!

      Human society should re-think this subject about punishing the service provider for something that someone else did wrong!

      • Ryan Kempf

        When the Police come and wish to search an apartment for drugs and the tenant or tenants are not home so the Landlord gets contacted and if he refuses to let them in he is obstructing justice don’t you think? so indeed he or she is responsible to at least some extent just like a social Network ought to be charged if they allow porn on their website just because they are not aware of it doesn’t make them innocent

    • chobiche

      So with your example of the Landlord then say the tenants are busted for having a Meth Lab…so the Landlord should be jailed as well b/c they are also accountable?

      Does that make any sense? So since the landlord maybe doesn’t own the property out right…he has a mortgage does that make the Mortgage company liable too b/c they are technically owners of the property?

      Ryan you are too far gone…you must be a socialist or something…

      • http://www.MADEinUSA.org JRBeaman

        Let’s prosecute the TV manufacturers for letting buyers use it to watch illegal porn.

        Let’s prosecute the phone companies when someone makes an obscene phone call?

        Where does it end?

        This is what China is trying to do to Google.
        Maybe China has asked Italy to start the ball rolling?

  • LauraC

    To an certain extent the service providers are responsible for the type of content they allow to be uploaded, stored and served in a public domain – that should be very clear in their T&Cs, privacy policies and mission statement. HOWEVER, the individual should always be held accountable, and responsible, for his or her own behaviour. I think this will be a wake-up call to social media/UGC sites to extend their user T&Cs to indemnify themselves against legal action through user behaviour. It only takes a few to mess it up for everyone. I disagree with the precedent this ruling is setting in Europe, and the message it is sending to irresponsible individuals. When you make the corporations pay, the individuals feel even more empowered to push the boundaries further into the grey knowing they are safe from personal liability and prosecution. It’s reprehensible.

  • Steve S

    We have to understand that the internet porthole in social sites such as this are the same as what is shown on TV. If this content harms or defames the persons included in questionable videos such as these, the poster and the media that allows should be subject to character defamation or legal prosecution. When videos are showing the taunting of a limited skills or helpless person, it is easy to screen out with a review. I know two kids that have autism. It would be obvious that if someone taunted them, it would show as an abnormal situation instantly on video.

    The same should be noted for any crimes against persons caught on video.

  • Dennis Hayes

    The main problem with the web is that everyone (if they wish to be) is anonymous. Anonymity creates an environment where I can do and say what I want with no responsibility.

    If the names/email addresses of the posters were readily or easily available this kind of behavior would decrease if not disappear totally.

    • http://www.sciencelives.com ScienceLives

      Well, in this case with Google’s help they did identify the people responsible for the video. There is no such thing as total anonymity on the internet. These kids learned that the hard way, and hopefully others will take note.

  • The Ex-pat European

    It’s the usual thing. In the US, courts stick it to big corporations because it’s popular to do so. In the rest of the world, courts stick it to US corporations because it is mega-popular to do so. This has absolutely nothing to do with the video. It is nothing but an Al Capone style shakedown of US business. It is exactly like the drunk in the bar who picks a fight with a professional boxer – he knows that if he loses, it makes the boxer look like a thug, if he wins, it makes him a hero, and if the boxer just walks away, then the boxer looks like a wimp. Heads I win, Tails you lose. It’s all about lining a few Italian pockets, while once again making America out to be the wicked capitalist exploiter.

    If you’re an American who has never lived in Europe, this will sound so bizarre that you won’t believe a word of it. If you’re a European who has never left your own country, you are probably so brainwashed by the insidious anti-American propaganda with which you are constantly bombarded that you won’t either. But every word of it is true.

    • http://www.MADEinUSA.org JRBeaman

      They go after the deepest pockets.
      The kids have nothing, but Google…..

  • Guest

    This is a blatant case of attacking freedom of speech, and has become a witch hunt to punish someone, anyone! No, The google executives should NOT be punished for the actions of others. Tell the Italian’s to go after the one who posted it! If the poster breaks the law of the land, they should be held accountable, not the web site.

  • Guest

    Unfortunately people are idiots and need to be held accountable for their actions, but the “authorities” are not interested in doing their jobs, because they are lazy, media whores.

    It sounds like the Italian authorities probably caught hell for the lenient “sentence” that the bullies received and have been publicly embarrassed for their weak action in the handling of the case… So, now — in their arrogance and infinate ignorance — they feel the need to take the heat off themselves and place blame elsewhere.

    Choosing someone with a very recognizable name — such as Google — will get the Italian media whores plenty of attention… however… in reality, all they did was draw more negative attention and bad publicity to themselves for being so incredibly ignorant and stupid.

    I completely agree with YouKiddingMe… until Italy can grow some brains, cajones’ and common sense they should be banned.

    **Please note… this is not a bash against Italy or Italians, there are media whores who abuse their power and positions worldwide, who also do things just as stupid, however this article is about an Italian case.

  • James Dorans

    Well I agree with The Ex-pat European and Dennis Hayes 100%.

    I get what Joe is saying but the minute the video goes onto the web site it is the website’s content which would help the website’s traffic and ranking in that is right Google.

    I don’t 100% agree Google should have gotten in trouble. But for it Google should go around and sue the people that put up the video since they had execs get damages in there actions. I would sue the people that did it $300,001 part of the exec salaries plus bandwidth they used.

    Also agree with YouKiddingMe, also take off all Italian content as well.

  • Mike

    There’s a twist on an old saying that goes like this, “Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle.”

    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is also an Italian media mogul who sees in Google’s content and advertising a huge competitor. Check out the extent of Mr. Berlusconi’s media holdings on Wikipedia. There is little doubt among cognoscenti that Mr. Berlusconi has the Italian courts in his pocket on this ruling as he seeks to limit the competitve presence of Google in Italy.

    It is also worth noting that Italy has the lowest internet usage among western European nations.

    • Guest

      We knew there had to be some greedy, hidden agenda.

      Thank you for bringing this to light.

      Greed… the new cancer.

      • http://www.MADEinUSA.org JRBeaman

        Use financial greed to get the decision reversed.

        Cut off Italy until they reverse the decision.

        All the businesses and social media users will put enough pressure
        on the courts to get it reversed. Googles loss in revenue will be
        much less expensive than the legal fees to fight it.

        Too easy, as peer pressure is stronger than any lawyer.

        • Valeria Vernon

          Unfortunately the decision will likely be reversed: I guess it was only a warning, but in the meantime, please, please do not torture your keyboard with all these clever theories

  • http://awisersolution.com Rey

    Governments must stop treating us as if we were children and must also see the good that negative materials can do. For example that video once it was learned about probably generated alot of interest in auticism and I get that donations for autistic causes went up shortly after. In any case just as it is impossible for the library of congress to screen every document going into it and I bet a similar issue exists in Italy and EU, website owners and operators cannot screen everything. Besides I bet the server those things were in were not even in their country so they are doing a far fetch reach to start with.
    With almost every large website embracing social network principles and having a lot of user generated content, even government sites themselves, there is no way to stop the movement and no way to keep check on it, so execs specially high ranking execs cannot be held responsible for it. I mean thereare many government sites with user generated content, can the government hold itself responsible if there is bad material there? If the servers are in th US and the company is large and does not have a branch in the EU or that country yet the users from that country still see it, are they going to try the execs in aucencia?

    If they do this, they will have a hell of a time with anarchists doing things in secret. Also imagine if I wanted to hurt Google, all I needed to do is upload a video that migh pass mustard but have a hidden few frames that break the law and they put it up and its jail time for them, how can anyone be thorough enough with filters, even if it was possible? It would be great to have these laws because if you do not like someone get them to accept bad material and put them in jail!!!!!!!

  • James Dorans

    Well with this Law Suite Google now has to be more defensive. You are right but privacy hurt them this time.

  • http://www.thelaborbag.com Jeremy

    I’m confused. If the Google employees have been found guilty of a privacy violation, does that not imply that they’re in trouble for exposing the content poster? Not for the content itself? Did they release the IP and server info without a warrant from the Italian authorities?

  • http://amen4me.com Saundra

    It seems utterly ridiculous and audacious to hold social media venues accountable for user inappropriate behaviors. If the court decision favors the plaintiff, I think it would have negative and possibly devastating consequences for the web and innocent users. It is so disheartening that it seems far too often, innocent people must always suffer unpleasant and imposing consequences due to the deviant behavior of the guilty.

    It is my prayer, that being the giant of a company they are, Google will triumph in the end.

    • Valeria Vernon

      … to those who suffered instead

  • Nick Baer

    We want media to exist to promote the free flow of ideas.

    Just as we don’t want Apple to censor sexy Apps, we don’t want FOX News to be falsifying “news” and inflaming the electorate. Google, YouTube, etc. should be more pro-active in editing illegal content on their search engines. YouTube is quick to delete a video that has nudity in it, but not so for videos with hate speech, copyright infringing music (sorry, the new links to iTunes to buy the song used illegally in an uploaded video doesn’t cut it), violence, and worse.

    I think Google should be a few more of its resources towards cleaning up the garbage pail that YouTube and its search engine it. Maybe this court decision will nudge that, but Google is pretty arrogant and self-righteous, so maybe not.

    But it really serves no purpose to have such a platform for hate, violence,a nd illegal activity.

  • Guest

    Just another thought to throw in the mix. Who owns the content on a social site is it the publisher or the host ? if a publisher no longer owns their content once its up there and public surely the host has some responsibility as the owner of the content to check what they are publishing no ?

  • http://www.simple-elegant-websites.com/ oiseaux

    Call me paranoid if you like, but considering who is the current Italian prime Minister and his history so far of muzzling the opposition, what better way than nobbling Google Execs and the like and trying to frighten off the conduits of protest. Mind you, it’s Italy now, Murdoch yesterday, and I have no doubt that politicians everywhere are hoping the day will come when they also can stifle dissent. Long live Internet freedom!

  • Robert

    The point of contention in this case is: the time it took for action on this invaseive and injurious video.

    The video was not only present on YouTube for 2 months, it was also one of the most frequently visited vidoes on the site. If that didn’t warrant Google staff droping in to see what it was all about, then what, pray, does?

    And no Google staff did anything until outside bodies complained. In view of the harmful nature of teh vidoe, this moral laxity on the part of Google staff is culpable.

    Google and others have invented technological means to automate their ends very well when it suits them. They can do the same for dangerous and injurious or otherwise unacceptable material on their sites any time they care to get on with it.

    It is right that the Directors were sentenced; it is ultimately their responsiblity to set their companies in good standing. At present Google’s usual show of self-righteiousness has worn thin.

  • http://www.skyfalcon.co.cc Giuseppe Altea

    What was the judges point? What will he protect through his ruling? Who will he stop in the future on Youtube? Why are the people that provide the infrastructure for valid social communication responsible for irresponsible people? If you build a road and you use it for get from point A to point B then some else uses it to bring a criminal act from point A to point B is it the roads fault, the road builder, the road user or the road police? If you use a fork to eat with and some uses it to commit a crime then should the fork maker be held accountable, the fork owner, the fork user, or society in general for not making sure that forks are not viewed as possible weapons? These are all questions that need to discussed and OPEN communications forums and things like youtube are only as useful and SAFE as the people that are using them, only as responsible as they are, only as thoughtful as they are and only as lawful as they are. So let me get this straight what does that have to do with GOOGLE again…???

  • Robert

    User defined content which the web is build around should not have any bearing on what other people do. In a case of “DontDateHimGirl.com” a person was accused of cheating by another person and he tried to sue the website and owner of the website and lost because the website and or owner of the website had no interaction with the person posting the blog. Websites just give the space and ability for users to be herd which is our right to speech. This is what you get when you try to do the right thing for government ie.. prosecuted for something you did not do.

  • Rockman

    The Google decision may seem extreme but highlights the game played by both social media and mainstream media; the more outrageous the content, the more traffic is generated. CNN broadcast a sniper killing a US soldier, Fox News shows vids of brutal girl fights, NBC replayed an Olympic Luger crashing to his death – in slo mo. The game is to broadcast, or facilitate the broadcast of shocking content that is only removed under threat of prosecution or negative public sentiment. The warning, “caution, some viewers may find this video disturbing” is ratings gold. Problem is media (social and mainstream) benefit from shocking content.

    Key issue is one of foreseeability and whether a duty of care exists. Few cry 1st Amendment when a hosting company is held liable for the actions of spammers or child pornographers especially when said company knows exactly what is going on. Google knows full well that UTube facilitates the dissemination of uncensored content and violation of trademarks and copyrights. In addition, Google states that any requests for takedowns of copyrighted material will be publicly displayed in an attempt to discourage copyright owners from enforcing their rights.

    Consider this, everyone. Someone takes a vid of your wife, girlfriend, sister, or mother being raped and beaten to death. The vid is uploaded to UTube where it garners a million plus views until taken down. 1st Amendment?

    The next battle? I predict Google’s location services and facial recognition apps will result in a few high profile assaults and murders (what a great way to track down that pesky chick that won’t go out with you). With social media comes social responsibility. Everyone should vet content before they use it.

  • Guest

    The case that you can’t comment under original post says it all. Anybody can defamate you on the google’s public places like youtube or blogger or buzz, but nobody can defamate google on it’s own blog. This is definitely double moral standard., one for google, the other for everybody else. In this Italy case, google workers commited criminal acts according to Millenium Digital Act, yet google claims that “they are not guilty”.

    • Marilyn

      Yes, I think Google can and should be held responsible in part with the person(s) who posted the video. Is the judge trying to send a message and use a large worldwide company as an example? Probably. While I think the possible sentence sounds harsh and perhaps a large fine would be more appropriate, a fine woud be too easily shrugged off by Google and not as impacting. For Google to say they didn’t know about the video in advance and acted responsibly by taking it off when notified…is an excuse, a cop-out and too little too late. Remember the Jenny Jones talk show case? A death occurred due to comments aired on the show. Jones and producers were “shocked and saddened” but didn’t think they were responsible. A life was taken due to someone being humiliated on the show. The outcome could have been different for the dead man and for the show…if some restraint (instead of seeking ratings) had been used. At the least, Jenny Jones’ name, the show, and the show’s producers would not have been dragged through the mud. And who knows, they may have remained on the air.

      The common response here would be…not everyone who posts to a blog or downloads a video is capable of such violence. How could anyone know in advance the outcome of John Smith in Wichita reading a blog about gardening and then going on a shooting rampage at a garden store? You can’t…and that’s the point. Because Google can not be sure of the intent of posting a video or how it will be received by the public, they should have done everything they possibly could have to avoid accusations of irresponsible behavior. They have not gone the extra mile to protect posters, viewers or themselves.

      The Google case is another of corporate greed…ignoring the right thing to do (setting standards for videos and reviewing them before posting) because they don’t want to hurt the popularity which leads to their profit margin. (Toyota?) Making decisions concerning excercising restraint as the right thing to do versus considering profit as the top priority, is out of balance in our culture today. These executives get paid the big bucks to make tough decisions. They took the easy approach…if it feels good (and puts money in my pocket) do it. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing but responsibility comes with it…for those who post and for those who provide the opportunity.

  • Valeria Vernon

    Is your freedom of posting a disgusting image or video more important than somebody else’s suffering?

    The limit of your freedom lies where somebody else’s freedom starts which means that the web cannot be totally free as long as idiots will do what they want and make others suffer cruelly.

    Put yourself in those poor people’s shoes and try to immagine how they feel, it’s destructive.

    It was not the first time that this happened, so I think that the judges wanted to give a warning to these managers, I don’t think they’ll go to prison, but they’ll perhaps give up a small part of their huge profits to pay people so that these videos cannot reach the public.

    They say that these filters are not applied because there must be freedom. It’s only an excuse, believe me. Don’t fall in the “freedom” trap: they are using this word and you to spare money, that’s all.

  • GuestMan

    Can I sue Italy’s present government for Warcrimes of Mussolina now? THIS IS AWESOME…ITALY HAS DEEP POCKETS!

  • WebSurfer

    Maybe the time frame of response is the issue against Google but then why is it not the basis of the charges? Sites like Youtube and Facebook are a tool for others to use and the content individuals upload should be of their own ownership and responsibility. If there is something illegal posted the poster and the involved parties to the content should be held responsible.

    Lets take this back to the brick and mortar world we live in. A car accident happens on a road in Italy and the Italian government is responsible because they built the road.

    From the posts here I have read the issue comes down to a better response system for this type of content. Policies that empower site surfers and web site publishers to identify and remove along with report the content. Let us isolate the trouble makers and filter them out along with the malware developers that have used these same sites to cause thousands upon thousands of dollars of damage to companies and personal computer systems.

    The world needs the web to be a platform of freedom for growth and approaching this issue this way is destructive and irresponsible.

  • http://www.lingerie2order.com Lingerie2Order

    There is a poll here on whether Google should have pulled the video earlier. Check it out at poll pigeon: http://bit.ly/bFlxVD

  • Jac

    Are you sure the Google execs didn’t just refuse to pay protection money, seeing that it’s Italy and with its reputation for corruption?
    Just wondering.

    • Valeria Vernon

      Protection money? Corruption? You did better than that: Enron, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff …
      As for corruption we have the choice in Connecticut Mayors and an FBI report in 2009 that says that “financial fraud cases jumped by 42 percent in the last year”. Forty-two per cent … Don’t fill your mouth with corruption elsewhere as if you were totally innocent, have a good look at home first.

  • E. Wyatt

    No. It was the bullies that made the video and posted it that performed the act that Google was convicted for. They were guilty, not Google. Google does not have the resources to closely look at all posted materials for issues of this sort, nor the ability to decide if this was a problematic video. They can’t tell if the encounter is real or not, if the victim was autistic or not. They performed a service that should have resulted in conviction of the bullies and provided a case for a civil suit against them by the victim. The case is a perversion of the dynamics of the encounter. Are we now to feel disgusted with Google instead of the bullies?

  • Guest


  • Guest

    Did the bullying happen at a school? Why wasn’t the school sued? Do the bullies have parents?
    Then why weren’t they sued? Or the town that the incident happened in?

    Ultimately the bullies are responsible. The sooner they learn that, the better.

    This ruling is insane.

    Oops! Am I allowed to say that? Is that slandering the judge?

    It’s still insane.

  • http://dealsproshop.auctivacommerce.com Walter

    I am just wondering if the video had not been uploaded and become public, would the bullies been convicted for what they did?

  • Dan

    In general, no, hosts/site owners should NOT be held responsible for the content of their sites. However, if the intent of the site was to blatantly promote some illegal activity that could harm a person or property, then, there may be a case against them… even if the content of the site is entirely user generated.

    If someone was to create a site, beatupyourneighbor.com, and encourage people to send descriptions or videos of them beating people up, then, yes, they should be held accountable for the content of such a site since they would be encouraging such activity.

    Finally, I’m not familiar with the law in Italy so I can’t comment on how/why the court there found the Google execs liable for their site’s content. Keep in mind that a lot of the freedoms and privileges we enjoy and take for granted here in the US are not universally accepted around the world.


  • fukuto

    In North America we have a statement at the beginning of charges; it goes something like this – “On such and such a date, so and so did KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY …”
    And that, my friends, is the key – knowingly and wilfully
    Italians have their own way of doing things …

    • Valeria Vernon

      If you grant people the right of uploading their videos for everybody to see you are also aware that someone will upload the wrong thing or will harm someone else. Nothing was done to prevent idiots from harming a poor child, NOTHING. So Google did it knowingly and willfully. Prison plus substantial damages to the poor child and his family is what these mangers deserve.

  • jrhlaser

    Absolutely not!!! If you go with that kind of thinking, car manufactures should be responsible for hit and runs, and any business would assume liability for the actions of the clients, absolutely ridiculous….when is society going to stop shifting the blame and start demanding individuals be responsible for their actions the way it used to be before the big lawyer boom.
    Lawyers have put forth this foolish notion for many years and prostitute their values (assuming they actually have some that can’t be bought or sold) to get rich shifting blame for the highest bidder, it’s about time we put to rest the notion that it is somehow someone else’s fault that you did what you did. Fact is that personal honor has been replaced by money hungry lawyers who, for a fee, will make an excuse for your aberrant behavior and try to make society pay the price for your crime in higher costs, higher liability for lawsuits (again, money for lawyers) and innocent parties being prosecuted for something that,ultimately, is an individuals responsibility.

  • Accountability

    I personally have been bashed online. A site created by crazy people defaming my character, violating copyright laws and full of made up libelous statements.

    This is all under legal investigation by law enforcement.

    BUT to be honest… GOOGLE has been a pain… refusing to take down listings from the search index – even with proof that the site if fully of copyright infringements and basically they (Google) just doesn’t seem to care…

    I may have a case legally against them once these individuals are found. (they have many aliases and even law enforcement is working to figure it out)

    My point is that Google doesn’t even follow their own rules as listed on the DMCA information on their site.

    Other search engines complied quickly to the removal requests.

    Google is a huge disappointment in my world… Love the tools they offer, just not how they have chosen to run the corporate side.

  • http://www.canadaseopro.ca Guest

    This happens on a daily basis in North America…Italy just said “Not Here Its Not”

    Honestly? I’m thinking Italy has the right to ask (and wouldnt you?):

    Why was this allowed to remain on your website for so long? Also as one of the largest Corporate internet presents known to man today, how would or even could this happen? Simple… no ‘effective” website monitoring. Happenings like this ruin lifes a on a daly basis all over the world.

    I think its any huge corporation’s obligation to monitor each and every posting it receives. Mornitoring of the “Corporate Web” should be “Web Standard” for all corporate online properties and developments. Good to see the ball is rolling in Italy, take care, TH

  • Guest

    Obviously this ruling is an aberration, but there’s a simple answer. Block all access from Italian ip addresses.

    • Valeria Vernon

      So that we cannot see that there are lots of stupid people with simple answers?

    • http://www.shapirit.biz ????? ??????, ?????? ?????

      Let’s show them that WE ARE BETTER, no retaliation, demand justice.

  • Guest

    What happens if an old-school newspaper had done the same thing as Google? Other forms of media (newspapers, radio, tv) have always been held accountable for what has been presented, but somehow web content providers are exempt from responsibility? Just become Google has made it open doesn

    • Marilyn

      Wouldn’t it be the smart thing for any owner of a website, forum, blog etc. to monitor or preview/approve an entry? I have a blog and I allow comments but I review them before posting. I don’t want profanity or off-subject comments, or someone trying to sell something. (see below) Plus, you never know anymore when some looney tune thinks it’s funny to say something stupid. I look at it as my responsibility, as well as quality control.

      Google didn’t cover their butts…they have now been bitten. Hopefully, other “no standards” or “no preview” or “no monitoring” sites will get a clue.

    • http://www.shapirit.biz ?????? ?? ??


      You forget that newspapers, radio and tv all have an EDITOR that decides what to broadcast and what not to, the news are not released by the people as in this case, that makes the newspaper or radio or tv station responsable for the content they release to the public.

  • Paris

    This simply ludicrous ruling is the outcome of a country whose people are not yet accustomed to the Anglo-Saxon’s idea of liberty symbolized by the internet.
    We are speaking of a country founded upon the most paradoxical kind of bureaucracy and distrust towards people…

  • http://markusmind.blogspot.com/ MarkusG

    As sick and disgusting as the video in question was (being myself a victim of vicious bullying in my youth), at the same time you can’t really go after Google or YouTube for hosting it because THEY didn’t make the content, a user did.

    Of course, if one does something criminal and posts about it (either in text or by video), then the companies that host the content should be required (under court order of course – got to keep it legal and have a paper-trail… hint, hint, Dubya Bush!!) to give investigators/prosecutors user information or whatever they have in order to track down the guilty party – less the host company be subject to an “obstruction of justice” charge.

    Problem is, it comes down to a First Amendment thing – at least for here in the United States. Problem is, with our “globalization” of information, what is protected under the First Amendment here may be illegal in another country. So the problem for all these hosts like YouTube, WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!, that make said “illegal” content available in other countries, is that they may have to come up with some kind of filtering system or hire moderators in these various countries to remove links/content from their sites that would be deemed inappropriate or illegal by their “censors” (or law enforcement agencies) – which would cost them all a fortune.

    Funny, there was a “Law And Order: SVU” episode that dealt with a website that was allowing content posted by users that lead to the death (or rape, forgot which) of someone and in the end, the website owner was convicted of facilitating the crime by allowing users to post the offensive content (and yes, it was a whole “First Amendment Rights” theme of the story!)

    It’s a double edged sword here in America. Now, our Constitutional Rights are being put to the test against the world and as in this case, what we allow here in the U.S. provides a large headache and legal battle elsewhere in the world.

    Tell me again what all this “globalization” is good for??!! I personally think we Americans were better off taking care of ourselves (produced our own goods and services, our own energy, our own food, kept manufacturing and JOBS here in The States, etc.)

    But that’s just my biased opinion!

  • http://revoltage.net revoltage

    simply and incontestably a ridiculous decision.

    if I write “Everybody should hate redheads!!” right here

    will the Italian government put Web Pro News out of business for racism? HaHA a wacky decision like this often indicates a rusty system where old conservatives need to be replaced by new people (believe me, I live in Switzerland I know what I’m talking about!)

  • http://www.BacklinkBooster.com Backlink Booster

    There is no way Google, let alone specific employees, should be held accountable for this. The action to publish the information in question was taken by another person, not Google.

    Holding Google responsible would be like holding a megaphone manufacturer…AND the employees who made the megaphone…responsible for somebody who used their megaphone to yell “FIRE” in a movie theater.

    This verdict is preposterous, plain and simple.

    • http://revoltage.net jon

      haha nice comparison!

    • http://www.volcanohits.com Kaye

      I totally agree. People who post and upload information to the internet should be held accountable for their individual actions. These people know if they are doing something they should not be doing.

      Everyone who uses sites such as myspace, yahoo, youtube, ect. should not be punished because some people are idiots.

      These sites simply provide us with a place to socialize, it is up to us as individuals to do what is right.

  • http://www.happyendingonline.com adult toys for less

    The judge is being paid off by a competitor or this is a political matter. There is something else dirty going on here, th etruth will come out.

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