Content Marketing Blog

Google takes action against online abuse

The right to be forgotten’ ruling, which came into place in May this year, gave Europeans control of what was being said about them online by making Google remove untrue or irrelevant content.

While the ruling has its pros and cons, an unusual new case has surfaced proving that the ruling isn’t applicable to all situations.

Prominent UK Businessman Daniel Hegglin has gone to court seeking that Google removes false accusations from search claiming him to be a paedophile, murderer and a supporter of the Klu Klux Klan, BBC reported.

Hegglin could not directly sue the original publisher for defamation, as the posts were rendered by an anonymous, and very committed, internet troll.

The false allegations sprung up all the way back in 2011, and since then the malicious rumours have spread to over 3,600 websites.

Due to the large scale of the claims, Mr Hegglin couldn’t make use of the right to be forgotten ruling as it would be a waste of time and resources on his behalf.

Instead, Mr Hegglin requested that Google block these results from search, as he believed the search engine to be responsible for spreading the false allegations in the first place.

Google settled the dispute with Mr Hegglin on Sunday, although the specifics of the settlement weren’t released, the search engine was reportedly making “significant efforts” to stop these results from appearing.

In the US, Google has no legal obligation for its search results, as it is a third party site that uses an algorithm, but the company reportedly took action because if felt sympathy for Mr Hegglin.

Queens Counsel representative for Google, Anthony White said: “Google provides search services to millions of people and cannot be responsible for policing internet content. It will however continue to apply its procedures that have been developed to assist with the removal of content which breaches applicable local laws.”

But these local laws are precisely what is causing Google grief, with plaintiffs targeting Google for its role in content distribution even though they are a third party site.

An example of this took place in the Australian courts in 2012, with Google losing a court battle to music promoter, Milorad Trkulja, for defamation.

Google results showed content suggesting Trkulja was connected with criminal activity, but the only criminal link he had was being shot in a Melbourne restaurant back in 2004.

Trkulja asked Google to remove the content, but the search engine refused, stating that he had to seek the original publishers of the content.

The court found Google to be the ‘publisher’ of the defamatory content and was ordered to pay $200,000 in damages.

Being aware of media law and applying it to your content marketing is incredibly important, not only to avoid potential lawsuits, but to build a strong and trustworthy brand image.

Posted by Dylan Brown