Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Libel by Google 

Here is a disturbing story that PR practitioners should note. It has to do with an accountant who was somehow associated in Google with information that was erroneous and injurious. Worse, he could not get it off the search engine. So, he had to sue for a correction against not only Google but also Yahoo! and America Online to get them to correct their records too.

Search engines can make mistakes, apparently, and when they do, reputations can be injured. While this was an error, there have been deliberate moves to "Google Bomb" lately, especially against the president of the United States. This is done by placing links in several places that refer back to a web page or phrase when certain names are put into the search engine. There is nothing to prevent disgruntled employees from doing the same to a company. For example, a union having a dispute with a company "Google bombs" it with links that take one to a Web page where grievances against the company are listed.

Over time, we should see more of this kind of action rather than less. Keep an eye on it.


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