THIS IS A BIG DEAL. No, seriously. Defamation in the age of the internet is a hard lawsuit to convict and, since various sites have been frantically trying to replicate Google’s much buzzed-about new “instant search” function, this IS a big deal.
A Paris court has convicted Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt of defamation (Yahoo! Tech News) after the new search function started suggesting the words “rapist” and “satanist” when the plaintiff’s name was typed into the search engine. They ruled a symbolic payment of 1 euro in damages must be paid, but the implication is huge — a search engine linking a person’s name to negative words can be deemed defamatory.
This changes everything.
Google will surely be appealing, but they were also ordered to pay 5,000 euros for the plaintiff’s court costs and, if the conviction holds, this could kill Google’s instant search function and the future of search engines could be forced to take a different direction. I’d be upset if a person started typing in my name and “rapist” came up, immediately associating my name with the word – after all, if Google somehow associated it, then it’s easy to expect someone else would.
Goodbye, instant search. (I hope.)
Personally, I’m glad. I love most of what Google’s done for the internet, but I hate the instant search function. It never finds what I’m searching for until after I’ve typed in the whole search string. Further, it makes Google’s homepage run slower because it’s running multiple searches with every keystroke – annoying.
With Google’s phone falling out of the hot seat, Google Buzz becoming buzz-less, and now this… are things finally going to end for Google’s reign of the internet? Aw, we still love their search engine. And the cute pictures they put on Google.com for anniversaries and special events. Speaking of which – happy 12th birthday, Google.