Clueless French Court Fines Google for Suggesting Defamatory Search Queries

GoogleA French court has convicted Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt of defamation. Google’s offense? Google Search suggested the words “rapist” and “satanist” when someone searched for the plaintiff’s name. The court has ordered it to pay damages worth 5000 euros to the unnamed plaintiff who has a standing conviction in a case of corruption of a minor.

Now, it’s unfortunate for anyone to have their names associated with offensive search queries. However, that’s all it is – unfortunate. Its common knowledge that Google Suggest as well as Related Searches features are completely algorithmic (as is pretty much every aspect of Google Search). While I can accept that an algorithm might act stupidly, it’s hard to fathom a well educated and enlightened judge acting as if he has “no effing clue”!

The court’s argument seems to be that Google can be held accountable for the suggestions generated by its algorithm, since it has already admitted to censoring terms that involving pornography, violence and hatred. One again, it doesn’t take a computer expert to notice the gaping hole in that logic. Retrospective human intervention is an altogether different beast than a general broad censorship that is required to protect minors from getting exposed to adult content. If Google were to grant every request from every disgruntled user who shares a first name with a p*rn star, then very soon, that’s all they will be doing.

Google Introduces Spelling Auto-correction in 31 Languages

Google-Search If spelling is not your strongest suit, then cheer up, as Google is here you lend you a helping hand. Google has beefed up its already impressive spelling tool, which is capable of automatically spotting spelling mistakes and suggesting correct alternatives.

As a result of this update, Google is now capable of offering spelling suggestions even for names by taking into consideration the context. For example if you search for “matthew devin oracle” Google will automatically realize that you are looking for Oracle’s Matthieu Devin. This feature is currently supported only for English spellings in the U.S. However, Google will be rolling out the change to other parts of the world in the near feature.

Google is also rolling out auto-correct for certain terms in 31 languages. For common misspellings, Google will directly offer results for the spell-corrected term instead of displaying the “Did you mean..” prompt. For example, if you search for “aiprt”, Google will automatically pull up results for “airport”.

Another aspect of Google Search that has been improved upon is Google Suggest. Google Suggest will now take into consideration your location and offer appropriate suggestions. So, if you live in New York, you will be getting different suggestions than folks living in Seattle.