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Aussies sue Google

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Friday February 8, 2008 )

Straight from the “you’ve got to be kidding me” department; 2 Australian real estate agents are suing Google for defamation.

According to this ABC article; lawyers for the real estate agents were in our Supreme Court today, alleging their clients have been defamed by articles found via Google searches. If you run a search on their names, I can understand them being upset at the contents of those articles – ouch!

One of the articles I briefly glanced at was written (according to the by-line) by one of the biggest players in real estate in this country – therefore it packs a lot of punch.

To add to the their woes, those articles appear on multiple sites and currently rank very highly on a search of their names.

They claim they asked Google to remove listings of those articles in 2007 but no effective action was taken.

I don’t have a clue whether those articles are justified or not and I would hate to have something like this happen to me; but I’m puzzled why they are holding Google responsible. Surely these guys’ time would be better spent pursuing the sites and authors of the articles in order to have them pulled and get whatever compensation? Why is Google being dragged into this?

This is also a reminder though to all of us in business what can happen if someone takes a disliking to you – be it justified or not. A colleague had something similar to this happen to him a while back (although not quite as venomous and nowhere near as widespread) and his only recourse has been to try and get better rankings on his name than the article that somehow made it to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)

A single highly ranked negative article about you or your business *can* have an impact; particularly if it’s a well structured rant – it doesn’t matter if it’s factual or not.

On the flip side, it’s also a reminder that before we hit the enter key on a rant, to really think about the possible ramifications of our actions. There’s not only the chance of getting our asses sued if we defame someone, but there’s the human aspect to consider – the ethical issues.

By the way, if you’re looking for a easy way to track what’s being said about you around the traps; try – it’s an excellent tool – and free to use.


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