US Court Sides With Google Over Penalizing Web Sites For Spam & Guidelines Violations

Feb 10, 2017 • 7:31 am | comments (20) by | Filed Under Legal Issues in Search

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Eric Goldman reports that a United States District Court sided with Google over a lawsuit issued by e-ventures Worldwide, LLC against Google for deindexing some of their sites.

The court said Google has every right to do so for several reasons including the first amendment. Here is the snippet from the judgment:

First, as Google argues, the removal of e-ventures’ websites from Google’s search engines is not a false statement and is thus protected First Amendment speech. There is no dispute that Google made no public announcement regarding the removal of e-ventures’ websites or the reasons behind the removal. But even if Google had published a press release that e-venutures’ [sic] websites were violating Google’s guidelines, that publication would be protected because the statement is true. e-ventures’ websites were in violation of Google’s Guidelines, and thus the removal of those websites was true speech, if it was speech at all.

But there is a more fundamental reason why the First Amendment bars e-ventures’ claims. Google’s actions in formulating rankings for its search engine and in determining whether certain websites are contrary to Google’s guidelines and thereby subject to removal are the same as decisions by a newspaper editor regarding which content to publish, which article belongs on the front page, and which article is unworthy of publication. The First Amendment protects these decisions, whether they are fair or unfair, or motivated by profit or altruism.

Here is the full document as a PDF.

Eric Goldman said "of course Google can de-index sites it thinks are spam. It’s hard to believe we’re still litigating that issue in 2017."

Matt Cutts, former Googler, wrote on Twitter:

So save your money and don't sue Google over getting a penalty.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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