Friday, February 06, 2009

Google's Motto - Don't Be Evil

[UPDATE: The site in question was apparently finally put out of business]

Here is Google's stance on slander, defamation of character and other such things posted on web sites:

Recently someone contacted a fried of mine and sent a post on a web site which was anonymously posted and contained clearly made up, derogatory information. Many requests have been made to Google to remove the information and they are apparently not getting the requests or ignoring them.

Additionally, Google provides information on how to contact a web site's owner. However in the case of the above site, the site owner is hidden by GoDaddy's DomainsByProxy service. Therefore contacting them is virtually impossible. Contacting them via the web site does no good. Whomever is managing the site refuses to remove the information.

I understand the idea that Google cannot police the world and remove information from every bad web site in existence, however when information is clearly being posted about someone who doesn't want that information and they provide clear requests to Google and can prove that they are the person about whom the unwanted information has been posted, doesn't Google bear some responsibility, similar to how a newspaper may be liable for publishing inaccurate information?

Take the case of Annie Oakley - a newspaper organization published in newspapers around the country some defamatory information. She successfully sued and won in something like 23 out of 25 court cases around the US to get back her good name. The newspaper didn't make up the story, but they spread the story. By leaving these clearly unwanted and untrue pages posted in Google after someone requests they be removed, Google is aiding and abetting the web site owner in posting information that can hurt other peoples' reputations and lives.

As a side note, in the case of Annie Oakley, she wasted her life away trying to get back her good name and probably didn't do her a lot of good. It's probably just best to ignore the ridiculous things posted on the Internet because people who really know you will know the truth.

I understand it will be hard for Google to control every web site out there and we don't want them to really, but when the information is completely untrue and unwanted, can they not be a "good citizen" of the world and take it down? Wasn't Google's motto at one point "Don't Be Evil"?