Google Instant Costs Google $65,000 In France

The Local, a French newspaper, reports Google France was ordered to pay €50,000 ($64,670) to Lyonnaise de Garantie, a French insurance company over a search suggestion that had them labeled as being a “crook.”

In the case of this French company, when you typed in their company name, Lyonnaise de Garantie it suggested at the end of the name escroc, which means crook or swindler. Google lost the case and was ordered to pay €50,000 ($64,670).

As you know, Google’s Search Suggestions, part of Google Instant, shows search result completions as you type. The suggestions are based off of search query volume. So if many people are searching for your name with an offensive term at the end, Google will use that data to searchers as a possible likely query match.

Every now and then, those suggestions can be hurtful to the reputation of a company or individual. That is why there is a whole new industry around online reputation management for search results and even search suggestions.

In France, Google has been sued and convicted numerous times over those search suggestions.

The Paris court held that in this case the suggestion “was offensive towards the company” and Google should be able to have “human control” over these suggestions. As you know, Google does not like human intervention in the search results and thus went to court to protect their ideology. They did so even after losing similar cases in the past in this and some other countries. I do not think Google would lose a case like this in the U.S.

As you can see, the search result doesn’t seem to show up anymore. I assume the court also forced Google to remove it.

Related Stories:

  • Google Convicted Again In France Over Google Suggest
  • Google Loses French Lawsuit Over Google Suggest
  • Irish Hotel Sues Google For Defamation Over Autocomplete Suggestion
  • How Google Instant’s Autocomplete Suggestions Work
  • Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Instant | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Google: Suggest | Top News

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    About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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    • http://www.helpmyseo.com David Amerland

      This shows such a profound lack of understanding of how technology works and such an unwillingness to understand that transparency and democracy are fundamental issues on the web, that one hardly knows where to begin from or how to successfully contextualize it. The faster we get rid of these dinosaurs the better.

    • russofford

      I wonder if the fact that you can easily trick Google into suggesting a term by using a service such as Mechanical Turk (by paying thousands of people to search for an offensive search term in Google) has any bearing in these courts.

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