Google May Be Discontinuing Defamation Removals

Historically, Google has made it easy for victims of smear campaigns to remove negative content from their search engine. Of course, the content would still exist and could still go viral on social media. That is how click-bait articles work and it might not even deter perpetrators if their articles are not appearing on Google. After all, Google tends to guard against click-bait articles anyway. But nonetheless, it was a helpful resource for victims of cyber-bullying. If a potential date or an employer were to conduct a Google search of your name, you could control what they see and prevent them from encountering any libel or defamation of your character. However, it appears that Google has discontinued that feature.

Too Many Illegitimate Requests?

One can imagine how many defamation requests Google receives. They basically have two choices as mentioned by First, they can do an investigation into every single one. Second, they can accept every single one and take the word of the person who reported it. Both of these will have major problems. First, it would require a lot of resources to inspect every single defamation case. Second, if they just accept all of them, they will be vulnerable to removing content that is not guilty of defamation. There is a line between criticizing something that an individual said or and argument that she made and smearing an individual. A blogger could legitimately say “I disagree with this person, and here is why,” and she would be within the boundaries of Internet ethics. It would only cross the line when she began to attack this individual personally. It may be that Google was receiving too many illegitimate defamation requests.

The Other Side: The True Victim

While one can sympathize with the struggle of not wanting to remove legitimate content from search engines, there is also the victim of cyber-bullying to consider. SearchEngineLand suggested in the linked article that Google may be sending a message to victims, namely that their requests are futile. Hopefully Google can strike a balance or perhaps develop some method of sifting through defamation requests and discerning true defamation.