The Ongoing Struggle for Control Over The SERPS
Google Forced to Remove Malicious Web Content?
A few weeks ago Google settled a lawsuit from Mr Hegglin, a UK business man and agreed to de-index web pages containing purportedly untrue information about him, apparently posted by a “troll”. The troll (who cannot be named) had accused the business tycoon of being a murderer, paedofile, and having ties to the Ku Klux Klan – it doesn’t get much worse than that!
Despite Google maintaining its stance that it is not responsible for web content which is indexed in its search engine, this is not the first time that Google has been held accountable in Europe for sites with malicious content.
Although Google is likely to be settling cases like these out of court to save on legal costs, to be seen as cooperative, and to avoid the creation of case law that may impose further restrictions down the line – it does fuel a growing trend that Google is responsible for any websites which appear in its search results.
As Google and its influence continue to grow, it appears that this is just another example of the courts in Europe putting pressure on Google in an attempt to limit its power.
However, as can be seen in the BBC’s coverage, the story has been spun that Google is working with Mr Hegglin to fight back against these “trolls”, to remove their malicious content and to possibly reveal their identities.
While Google may be aiding Mr Hegglin in removing any information about him in Google’s results which may muddy his reputation, one might argue that Google is working towards its own agender, which is to continue to grow its monopoly – under the radar if possible.
It seems that this case has highlighted a power struggle over the search engine results, and over the content on the internet general. A power struggle between three main players:
- Google who wish to develop a monopoly over the search results – the value of which is almost limitless
- European Governments / Corporations who wish to limit Google’s control over the search results, especially where extremely profitable search terms, and the reputations of business tycoons are involved
- The illusive and indefinable Anonymous – the hactivists whose motives and objectives are equally as hard to pin-down
It’s an interesting struggle, as at present as it is not easy to pick a winner. While Google appear to be holding all of the cards, they ultimately bend to the will of European (and other) governments and corporations on many of the occasions they are taken to court. Meanwhile Anonymous, who are a movement made up of individuals bound very little if anything, appear to be impossible to control. Being unidentifiable, they often are not held accountable for their actions in what they often refer to as RL (real life), while de-indexing the websites they have published content on seems just as futile.