Are Google Autocomplete Suggestions defamatory? Google’s not feeling lucky

Two lawsuits claim Google Autocomplete is guilty of generating  defamatory suggestions.

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Is Google Autocomplete Guilty of defamation?


Two recent lawsuits brought against the search giant suggest that it may be.


In this instance (Trkulja v Google Inc [2015] VSC 635), Trkulja alleged that Google published defamatory material about him through their search results. A photo of him would come up when using Google Images to search terms such as ‘Melbourne underworld criminals’ and ‘Melbourne underworld killings’, alongside images of notorious Melbourne criminal figures. These pictures also came up when searching for such terms in the normal search functionality as a preview for the Google Images results.  Further, when searching for his name, Google’s autocomplete functionality would suggest the terms ‘criminal’, ‘Melbourne crime’ and ‘underworld’.


Trkulja alleged these results carried a number of defamatory imputations.


The recent Trkulja decision also considered the South Australian judgment recently handed down in Duffy v Google Inc [2015] SASC 170, where it was found that Google was liable for defamatory content of its search results and autocomplete functionality, which linked Dr Duffy’s name to the term ‘psychic stalker’.


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