We know that many employers research potential candidates online, but one job-seeker recently argued in court that Google's autocomplete feature has tarnished his reputation and hindered his ability to get work. "The autocomplete function in Google's search bar fills in crimes when my client's name is entered," said Hiroyuki Tomita, a lawyer in Tokyo, where the case was heard. "He lost his job, and has had other job offers rescinded, likely because of this association."
It turns out that when users type in the man's name, crimes reported in a false story about him pop up. Due to privacy considerations, his name and the crimes he's said to have committed were not publicly released.
Google maintains that its autocomplete results are compiled organically and objectively based on queries submitted by other Google users. In this case, though, the Tokyo court ruled in the man's favor, and manual intervention from Google may be necessary. The Next Web got this confirmation from Google that it received a provisional order from a Tokyo district court:
A Japanese court issued a provisional order requesting Google to delete specific terms from Autocomplete. Google is currently reviewing the order.
This isn't the first time that Google users have brought forth complaints that the search suggestions facilitate online defamation. PC World Australia points out that similar legal proceedings have taken place in France, Italy, Ireland and stateside. Do you think that Google should manually remove erroneous and reputation-harming search suggestions upon request?
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