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Google, Schmidt Convicted Of Defamation In France

Court maintains search suggestions constitute libel

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Google and its CEO, Eric Schmidt, are in a little bit of trouble in France.  Due to the appearance of some controversial search suggestions in connection with a plaintiff’s name, a court’s convicted both the company and the man of defamation.

Specifically, it seems that Google France would suggest terms like "prison," "rape," "rapist," and "Satanist" when searchers would try to look up an individual (who was once convicted of corrupting a minor).

So the individual, whose name has been kept private so far, filed a lawsuit, and this conviction is the result.

Google’s now supposed to pay the plaintiff




5,000 (or about $6,700) to cover his court costs.  The search giant’s also supposed to ensure that its suggestions don’t veer into uncomplimentary territory of this sort again.

GoogleGoogle plans to appeal the ruling, though, pointing out in a statement that search suggestions don’t come from within the company, and are instead sourced from the most popular searches conducted by users.

It remains unknown when Google will again get a chance to prove that point.  Otherwise, additional details are available here if you’re interested and can either read French or tolerate a not-too-terrible translation.

Google, Schmidt Convicted Of Defamation In France
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  • Shamu

    I think Google would even lose this case here in the US. I believe there was a similar case like that in the US in which the company lost the lawsuit. I believe the site had some predetermined data in a dropdown box or something like that. The deal is that users didn’t authorize Google to show or suggest their searches to others. So Google itself is the one responsible for those suggestions as that’s a totally different tool than search. In other words, users used a search engine to enter their search terms; Google built a tool to display those search suggestions. Google is liable.

    • Shamu

      Correction: Google built a tool AND displayed those search suggestions through it. Google is liable.

  • Michelle

    This is an ongoing issue where people & companies are being lied about online & nothing is being done to put a stop to it.

    In the meantime companies like Google hide behind privacy laws not caring how many people they are hurting. Not to mention they have deep pockets that no one person or small business can go up against.

    Many small businesses have been forced to close their doors because of the lies spread by disgruntled employees, independent contractors, ex spouses or intimate partners, their competition, angry people who may not even be their customers. In fact most times the complaints aren’t from real customers at all. Only when the company is unethical or unprofessional do the posts tend to be true.

    If you have been defamed online, please contact us with your story – youcanthidebehindtheinternet@gmail.com

    Small businesses are coming together to change the laws that allow people to hide behind the internet & not be held accountable when they lie to try to bring the other person down.