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'Bankrupt' Australian Surgeon Sues Google For Auto-Complete 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-is-google-so dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Australian surgeon Guy Hingston is suing Google in the U.S. for 'auto-complete' defamation. Typing in his name brings up 'Guy Hingston bankrupt' in the auto-complete. The association seems to have come about because Hingston purchased an aviation group CoastJet which went bankrupt two-and-a-half years later. Hingston himself was also bankrupted. Hingston claims this association has cost him customers and is suing Google for $75k, plus court costs. Google has often found itself the target of litigation over auto-complete searches. Are auto-complete results even useful? Should Google be policing the auto-complete suggestions?"
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'Bankrupt' Australian Surgeon Sues Google For Auto-Complete

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  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:14AM (#42665869)

    Maybe he shouldn't of gone bankrupt.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by neonmonk (467567) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:08AM (#42666263)

      He didn't. His personal bankruptcy was annulled.

      But even if he did go bankrupt from the CoastJet business failing, should that be broadcast to everyone as soon as they even type in his name into Google? It's completely out of context. He didn't go bankrupt from being sued by patients. He didn't go bankrupt by gambling his money at the casino (although buying into aviation at this stage of the game could be argued as riskier) - the guy is being punished needlessly.

      Does this have to go to a lawsuit though? Why can't Google seem to moderate themselves effectively? You should be able to fill out a form saying "Google autocomplete is being mean to me" and Google decides whether or not it makes sense to remove said autocomplete. It shouldn't be hard. Simple common sense.

      I don't know what the case here is, but if he did try to contact Google then I'm sure they ignored him completely as they are wont to do.

      Anyone who claims this is about freedom of speech are being ridiculous. Should people be able to buy billboard space around the world and declare to the world that you are pedophile? Or something true, a compulsive masturbator? What makes a Google autocomplete any different?

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        But even if he did go bankrupt from the CoastJet business failing, should that be broadcast to everyone as soon as they even type in his name into Google? It's completely out of context. He didn't go bankrupt from being sued by patients. He didn't go bankrupt by gambling his money at the casino (although buying into aviation at this stage of the game could be argued as riskier) - the guy is being punished needlessly.While I understand the wanting to keep something like that quiet, it is public information.

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Pseudonym (62607) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:18AM (#42666327)

        I'm not sure that Google autocomplete is the place to draw the line, but you do raise a good point. You have to think about this in the context of big data and modern government and corporate surveillance.

        We all know the stories of people being placed on TSA watchlists, arrested, interrogated, and even tortured for having a similar name to a bad guy [wikipedia.org] or being the second cousin of a bad guy [wikipedia.org].

        People's actions can be chilled or even lives ruined by very tenuous associations in databases. And whether through the Erdos/Bacon game, the assumption that correlation is the same as causation, or plain old coincidence, data mining can uncover associations which are false or misleading, even if they are statistically significant.

        Now we may argue that people shouldn't base decisions on associations made by Google's machine learning algorithms. It is, ultimately, the responsibility of the person making the decision to evaluate the strength of the evidence rationally. In a perfect world, where everyone is perfectly sane and rational, and no snap judgments ever have to be made, we could assume this.

        Meanwhile, back in the real world, these databases exist and are used. So how much responsibility should be placed on those maintaining the databases for making sure that the contents are accurate, particularly clearing up a mistake when it is pointed out? Is there additional responsibility if the database is accessible to the public?

        It's a very interesting question, and I don't know the answer.

        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jiro (131519) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @05:27AM (#42667163)

          "Google's machine learning algorithm" is itself a misleading phrase, since Google refines their algorithm using actual people and is quite capable of refining it to avoid causing this guy problems--they just didn't do it to him. http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/06/07/194210/google-outlines-the-role-of-its-human-evaluators [slashdot.org] http://slashdot.org/story/12/11/27/1435219/googles-manual-for-its-unseen-human-raters [slashdot.org]

        • What if someone with the same name as his loses business because people assume it's the same person?
      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @03:09AM (#42666561)

        His personal bankruptcy was annulled.

        How do you annul a bankruptcy? And even if it's annulled, it did happen. He was bankrupt, even if, like the stars, it was only 23 hours between marriage and annulment. If that annulment mattered, then "Guy Hingston" should complete to "Guy Hingston bankruptcy annuled", and that would be perfectly fine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Yannic (609749)

          ...And even if it's annulled, it did happen...

          You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @03:14AM (#42666587)

        But even if he did go bankrupt from the CoastJet business failing, should that be broadcast to everyone as soon as they even type in his name into Google?

        Yes. Because that's what you'll find prominently in the articles mentioning his name.

        Someone looking for a cancer surgeon is going to google his name and then cross it off without even reading beyond the autocomplete? Bullshit. This just a guy trying to turn the bad press his failing businesses generated into a payday.

        you should be able to fill out a form saying "Google autocomplete is being mean to me

        You should be able to ignore it and get on with your life. Google doesn't create the articles it indexes. It's not Google's responsibility to hide ones you find embarrassing. Quite the opposite. Maybe this doctor wants to borrow money from me and I want to know his business history. If Google hides that, and I loan him money and he stiffs me, should I then sue Googel?

        Should people be able to buy billboard space around the world and declare to the world that you are pedophile?

        So, you use the Chewbacca defence, then?

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @03:56AM (#42666801) Journal

        Should people be able to buy billboard space around the world and declare to the world that you are pedophile? Or something true, a compulsive masturbator? What makes a Google autocomplete any different?

        Unlike a billboard google just displays the most common search terms, it's a statistical fact, not an endorsement.

        Anyone who claims this is about freedom of speech are being ridiculous.

        Anyone who claims that google auto-complete reflects google's opinion is also being ridiculous. Having said that I do agree with the rest of your post, I like the basic concept of the "right to be forgotten", I also think there should be some mechanism whereby a person can demand their name be removed from a commercial search index with no questions asked other than proof of identity. OTOH I'm not sure how well that would work out in practice with common names.

        • Change your name and you'll be instantly forgotten. What people who say they want a "right to be forgotten" is a right to control specific information about the: hide the bad, keep the good. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Unlike a billboard google just displays the most common search terms, it's a statistical fact, not an endorsement.

          It doesn't work that way. Suggestions are not based on what is statistically relevant or factual, they are based on what helps people find the information they are looking for. A few years back "lady gaga" suggested "lady gaga is a man", back when those rumours were flying. People were interested in that nonsense so that's what it offered to find for them.

          So this is more like Google saying "I see you are interested in , perhaps you would like to know about their bankruptcy?"

          Having said that I do agree with the rest of your post, I like the basic concept of the "right to be forgotten", I also think there should be some mechanism whereby a person can demand their name be removed from a commercial search index with no questions asked other than proof of identity. OTOH I'm not sure how well that would work out in practice with common names.

          The EU's right to be forgotten wo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ArsenneLupin (766289)

        Why can't Google seem to moderate themselves effectively? You should be able to fill out a form saying "Google autocomplete is being mean to me" and Google decides whether or not it makes sense to remove said autocomplete

        Exactly. And this should be a plain form, which you can fill out without having to get a google+ account, and without having to install boatloads of spyware onto your computer. When complaining about abuse, you shouldn't have to agree to more abuse...

        Also, a manned e-mail address for general complaints and/or suggestions would help too. Currently, google is very hard to reach.

        Yes, they probably would have many many mails sent to that address, due to their sheer size alone. But that same size should allow

      • A few things are relevant here. First, he did at one time go bankrupt. Yes, that was eventually annulled. However, it was at one time true and in the news and it was about him. Second, can he prove causation here? Correlation is easy to do, but is it actually Google's autocomplete, or is it just that he's been a public figure in all sorts of media because of the CoastJet business failing and he lost reputation because of that? How much customers is suing Google going to cost him? The Streisand effect is str

      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by psiclops (1011105) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @06:08AM (#42667315)

        It's completely out of context. He didn't go bankrupt from being sued by patients. He didn't go bankrupt by gambling his money at the casino

        no one is saying he went bankrupt, had a gambling problem, or is a bad doctor. all that is said is that if you're searching for his name, it's likely that you are searching about his bankruptcy issues. which is probably true, that's how google's auto-complete algorithm is meant to work, and i've personally found it to be quite accurate. the context is his name,
        bankruptcy is within that context.

        the guy is being punished needlessly.

        he's not being punished. punishment is a negative reaction to something one does not like. honestly i really doubt most people at google even know who this guy is, let alone crafted this auto-complete to appear when his name was typed in, they don't have some ventedda against people that have gone bankrupt.

        You should be able to fill out a form saying "Google autocomplete is being mean to me" and Google decides whether or not it makes sense to remove said autocomplete. It shouldn't be hard. Simple common sense.

        making such a decision would mean that someone has specifically decided it is relevant. leaving it up to machine is fairer, tweaking the algorithm as such cases come up if required.

        I don't know what the case here is, but if he did try to contact Google then I'm sure they ignored him completely as they are wont to do.

        maybe next time i contact them and state whenever anyone types in the letter 'T' auto-completer should show 'The awesomeness of psiclops' you will complain when they ignore me? sometimes requests don't warrant an answer. if they got one such request a year, sure they should respond, thousands a day, considering his requests is invalid - probably not.

        Anyone who claims this is about freedom of speech are being ridiculous.

        True. being that this isn''t something google is trying to express.

        Should people be able to buy billboard space around the world and declare to the world that you are pedophile? Or something true, a compulsive masturbator?

        difficult question. in short my beliefs are that no they shouldnt be able to and at the same time, noone should be able to stop them from doing so. i realise these are contradictory, that's what happens when you you try and put everything into black and white.

        What makes a Google autocomplete any different?

        maliciouse intent.

      • If people bought the billboard space to declare you a pedophile, then Google should be allowed to report that. And if it's the most notable thing about you then it should also be part of autocomplete. Google just compiles information available on the internet. And people that use it expect that - it's a search engine. So if you don't like some of the information that is out there about you then tough for you. You should sue the guys that first made it available (if it was slander), not the people that archi

    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Zemran (3101) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @03:04AM (#42666525) Homepage Journal

      He obviously has too much money left and he wants to waste it on lawyers so that he can go bankrupt again...

    • by ethanms (319039)

      Let's say you got drunk at a bar and were arrested for disorderly conduct. This could have happened years ago, maybe in college and now you're a totally responsible person in your 30s. Would it be right for someone to follow you for your entire life around and every time someone started to say your name this other person would pop out and shout out "...GOT DRUNK AT A BAR AND ARRESTED FOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT!!" ... No it sucks. But that's the technological equivalent of what Google is (probably inadvertently)

      • My full name isn't a common one, but there are about 30 people in the U.S. with it. If one of them goes bankrupt or commits crimes, that comes up in auto-complete. Potential employers searching my name would see info about another person with my name, assume it's me, and move on to the next applicant. So, yes, since google's so widely used, there needs to be a removal process in place.
        • ..Potential employers searching my name would see info about another person with my name, assume it's me, and move on to the next applicant...

          So, your future employers are all so stupid that they'd automatically assume that google's autocomplete refers "solely" to you? Why would you seek employment with such stupid people? All employers are stupid, right?

          cheers,

  • Libel? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:16AM (#42665877)

    How can it be libelous if it's true?

    • Re:Libel? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sourcerror (1718066) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:18AM (#42665887)

      It can be libel and true at the same time if it invades privacy, but I don't think it applies in this case.

      • Re:Libel? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:30AM (#42665967)

        It can be libel and true at the same time if it invades privacy, but I don't think it applies in this case.

        True. But bankruptcy rulings are public info in Australia. The bankruptcy is to protect you from your creditors, you cant do this the ruling is secret.

        So,
        Is Guy Hingston bankrupt = Yes
        Is this public knowledge = Yes
        Will this get thrown out of court = Yes

        • From what I understand, Guy Hingston has been declared bankrupt at some point in time. However, this has been annulled according to his lawyer. This means that "is Guy Hingston bankrupt = No" is the current situation.

        • It can be libel and true at the same time if it invades privacy, but I don't think it applies in this case.

          True. But bankruptcy rulings are public info in Australia. The bankruptcy is to protect you from your creditors, you cant do this the ruling is secret. So, Is Guy Hingston bankrupt = Yes Is this public knowledge = Yes Will this get thrown out of court = Yes

          Will other 'Guy Hingstons' be unfairly associated with this 'Guy Hingstons' bankruptcy? Yes. There's where the problem is.

      • Re:Libel? (Score:5, Informative)

        by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:52AM (#42666147)
        Under Australian Law the Truth is a Defence to Defamation. You don't even need to show "public interest", just that what was said was "substantially true." http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Resources/medialaw_in_australia_02.html [thenewsmanual.net]

        But he's suing in America which has even stronger free speech laws! Good luck with that!
    • Re:Libel? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:26AM (#42665943)

      The summary leaves out that Hingston's bankruptcy was subsequently annulled.

      Google is only reporting on the associated between "Hingston" and "bankrupt" because other people have made that association, either by typing it into Google, or by publishing it on sites that Google indexes. Personally, I think this sort of activity should be protected - "other people have typed "Hingston bankrupt" into Google" is a fact, regardless of whether Hingston is, or ever was, bankrupt.

      • Re:Libel? (Score:5, Funny)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:30AM (#42665969) Journal

        He shouldn't complain. It's better than "Hingston mutant genetic sandwich"

      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        That's legalising libel through weasel words.

        A newspaper could quite easily use that principle to do front pages of "numerous reports that politician xyz secretly sacrifices goats to a pagan fertility goddess!".

        A lie doesn't become true if it's repeated enough.
        • As long as there actually are numerous reports. Newspapers do that all the time - the word they like to use is "alleged". Here you go [ibtimes.com] - "Berlusconi’s Alleged Ties To Mafia Again Resurface". Newspapers have been reporting on rumour for a long time. As long as they ensure that they're reporting on other people making the allegations, instead of making the allegations themselves, they're fine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Spy Handler (822350)

      Suppose people type your name into Google, and the autosuggestion that comes up is:

      {your name} masturbates to {your preferred} porn

      It's true, so it can't be libelous right?

    • by ethanms (319039)

      Let's say you got drunk at a bar and were arrested for disorderly conduct. This could have happened years ago, maybe in college and now you're a totally responsible person in your 30s. Would it be right for someone to follow you for your entire life around and every time someone started to say your name this other person would pop out and shout out "...GOT DRUNK AT A BAR AND ARRESTED FOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT!!" ... No it sucks. But that's the technological equivalent of what Google is (probably inadvertently)

  • by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:22AM (#42665901) Journal
    ... that the defamatory remark be something which cannot be unambiguously proven? If something bad happens to person X, reporting that fact doesn't really put person X in any more of a disparaging light than the fact that the bad thing had actually happened in the first place.
  • by countach (534280) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:22AM (#42665903)

    Rather than spending his money on lawyers he might be better off spamming Google with other autocompletes until it wipes out this one. Things like Guy Hingston, greatest surgeon ever! And Guy Hingston saves the planet from alien invasion! and Guy Hingston cures cancer and AIDS, saves baby seals!

    • by tsa (15680)

      Don't forget: Guy Hingston thinks of the children!

    • by quenda (644621) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:37AM (#42666055)

      Even better idea: get his name associated with porn, then google automatically disables auto-complete. (Try typing in the name of a porn star and you'll see.)

      Seriously, he just needs to start a good free porn site with his name, put out some press releases, buy a few ads in the mainstream media, then everybody will google "Guy Hingston porn" and his problem will go away.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        That could impact his business even more. If he is going to take that route he would be better off taking a vacation, quietly meet with a porn producer and pay them to use his name on a bunch of there film. Associate the link to a completely different guy. This would give the desired Google filtering, and when the filtering doesn't work, it will just look like a guy with the same name.
    • by lxs (131946)

      According to the summary Guy Hingston also bought a private jet plane. And then he went bankrupt. His money would be better spent on classes on financial responsibility.

    • by spongman (182339)

      how about "Guy Hingston sues people he doesn't like - don't let him near you with sharp knives."

  • It is only defamation if it is untrue. If Hingston had a business that went bankrupt and went bankrupt then where is the defamation?

    • by Barny (103770)

      He didn't, the bankruptcy was overturned.

      • Re:Is It Untrue? (Score:5, Informative)

        by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:08AM (#42666259)
        It wasn't overturned, his lawyer said it was annulled: "Separate documents obtained from Insolvency Trustee Services Australia show Dr Hingston was bankrupted on August 4 2009. Dr Hingston's lawyer Philip Beazley said that bankruptcy had been annulled."

        http://www.itsa.gov.au/dir228/itsaweb.nsf/docindex/Bankruptcy-%3EPersonal+Insolvency+Information-%3E5F.+Annulment [itsa.gov.au] What is annulment?
        Annulment is the cancellation of a bankruptcy.

        There are three ways a bankruptcy can be annulled:
        * The creditors’ debts including interest and trustee’s fees and expenses are paid in full.
        * Your creditors accept a composition or arrangement which is an offer of something less than payment in full.
        * Application to the court in some limited circumstances.

        Effects of annulment.
        * Your annulment is recorded on the public record, the National Personal Insolvency Index (NPII) database, forever.
        * Assets not needed by your trustee to pay your creditors, expenses and fees will be returned to you.

        etc ...
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        It wasn't overturned. In US terms, it wasn't annulled either. He declared bankruptcy, reorganized his finances under bankruptcy protection, then exited bankruptcy by completing the terms imposed by the court. Calling that "annulled" is like calling a convicted murderer "annulled" once he serves his prison time. Nope, once you complete the judicial process, you still are what you declared yourself to be when you started it.
        • by jonbryce (703250)

          In England, we would call what you describe as "discharged" rather than "annulled". Annulled would be a declaration that he should have never been made bankrupt in the first place.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:27AM (#42665949)

    I don't see how it's either, since auto-complete is based on what people are entering as search terms. It's the result of an algorithm, not a human. Algorithms have no sense of morality, they just do what they're told. You might as well say a car slandered you for backfiring as it drove by. Also... he doesn't own an exclusive right to the name 'Guy Hingston'.

    In short, Mr. Hingston -- screw you. Also... Guy Hingston Bankrupt Guy Hingston Bankrupt Guy Hingston Bankrupt. I hope you do for having such a piss-poor understanding of the internet.

    • It's the result of an algorithm, not a human. Algorithms have no sense of morality, they just do what they're told. You might as well say a car slandered you for backfiring as it drove by. Also... he doesn't own an exclusive right to the name 'Guy Hingston'.

      Algorithms are produced by people, and ultimately it is up to those people to manage its behavior. That's why they can't hide behind the shield of 'It's just an algoritm' in anti-trust cases. They have to demonstrate that the expected behavior of the algorithm is neutral towards competitors.
      I'm not sure of the merit of the case based on Australian law, though it would set a dangerous precident. If you happen to share a name with somebody who has been accused of racist remarks, can you sue when autocomple

    • by rmstar (114746)

      I don't see how it's either, since auto-complete is based on what people are entering as search terms. It's the result of an algorithm, not a human.

      From a human point of view, his complaint has merit. I do not see why he should have to live with this just because it is an algorithm - whatever the legal terms.

    • by ethanms (319039)

      I don't see how it's either, since auto-complete is based on what people are entering as search terms. It's the result of an algorithm, not a human. Algorithms have no sense of morality, they just do what they're told.

      So... "Guy Hingston bankrupt" searches are manually entered a few times.

      Now the the next few people who start to type in "Guy Hingston..." will see Google's algorithm auto-complete that with "...bankrupt"; it's likely that out of curiosity they will now search for those terms together. At this point from the algorithms point of view a "human" is searching for that complete set of terms, so the algorithm is reinforced to auto-complete "Guy Hingston..." with "...bankrupt" to more people...

      It should be obviou

    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      Why exactly should something being automated stop it from being a crime?

      It's the responsibility of the creator of an algorithm to ensure that measures are taken to make sure it obeys the law. If someone creates a robotic hedge trimmer that then decides that people's necks also need trimming and runs amok, should the creator get away with it because it was down to his algorithm doing it automatically?
  • As much as I hate to admit it, I find Google search's autocomplete very useful in two cases:

    - To check someone's exact name. For instance, if I hear "this song is called "Baby I wawawawa" written by "Jim Wawawawa" on the radio, without catching the song's title or author completely, I can type "baby I Jim" and usually Google finds the answer before I type enter.

    - To check spelling.

    This said, I've also experienced the effect of having something stick to my name in the Google autocomplete. Fortunately it was

  • SEO gone wild (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lev13than (581686) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:34AM (#42666023) Homepage

    As a surgeon, does he really think it's a good idea to replace the "Guy Hingston bankrupt" autocomplete with "Guy Hingston lawsuit"?

  • it might be, but half the time it seems the auto complete script chokes and leaves me with a blank page, making the point of it moot, other times as I am typing I see exactly what I am looking for, then the page changes.

    I lived fine with clicking a button, and I still have to click a button so whats the point?

    bloated unwanted feature

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:35AM (#42666039) Homepage

    OK, everybody, it's time to help him out here. Google for "Guy Hingston pumpkin fucker" until the association between Guy Hingston and bankrupt goes away!

  • by slackware 3.6 (2524328) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:08AM (#42666261)
    It really help those of us that can't type faster than 50 wpm and can't spell worth a shit.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      There you were, trying to look impressive by implying that 50 words per minute is normal typing speed (it's actually faster than is required to be a certified typist) and telling us autocomplete is only for people who can't spell, but then...

      Google's autocomplete appends an "s" when I type "it really help".

  • The amusing part... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by synir (731266) <arkandelNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:08AM (#42666269)
    You know what's amusing? Through this lawsuit (and the good ol' Streisand effect) being reported all over the internet under the title "Guy Hingston... ... bankrupt" he's more or less ensuring the propagation of these terms' association while at the same time, since he likely has no viable legal case here, getting nothing back from Google.

    I'd bet neither of those results were what he was hoping for.
    • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:30AM (#42666391)
      Here is the statement of claim. http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1221&context=historical [scu.edu]

      "10. When an individual computer user types "Guy Hin ... ", into the Google search engine as a search, the words "Guy Hingston Bankrupt" appears. When the link(s) is clicked on, the article{s) to which the user is directed has absolutely nothing to do with a bankruptcy associated with Dr. Hingston. Dr. Hingston is not bankrupt. Any association with Dr. Hingston and a bankruptcy is in false light and/or defamatory. Dr. Hingston has directed numerous inquiries and made numerous requests, both oral and written, to Google for immediate action to resolve the foregoing issue to no avail."

      My compliments to his lawyer who resisted padding this out to 30 pages.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        If I were the judge, I'd throw it out because they don't specify the link that the autocomplete returns, and it's changed on account of the lawsuit itself. Also, he was bankrupt and did declare bankruptcy. He isn't, at this moment, bankrupt.
    • What would you have him do? Sit back while an imperialistic foreign corporation rolls all over him?

      With any luck, the 'bankrupt' articles will now lead to the controversy, at least giving him a fig leaf of cover for his humiliation.

  • Hopefully Ray Kurzweil can figure a way to turn off that damn auto-complete
  • Are auto-complete results even useful?

    No and it's fucking annoying. I have it disabled and my proxy filter set to ensure it stays that way. I'll submit my search query when I'm damn good and ready.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      In Chrome, auto-complete also auto-completes URL's, which works quite well.

      The search results are almost never useful and I often have to edit the search query instead of it just searching what I want to type.
      If I type "git" and press enter, I want to search for "git". I understand "gitlab" is also quite relevant, but I didn't type "gitlab", I typed "git" and pressed enter.
      It's great for auto-complete to offer alternatives, it's quite a different thing for it to overrule what I'm typing while I'm typing.

  • by whois (27479) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:33AM (#42666403) Homepage

    My favorite thing about autocomplete is all the times I've typed something in the box I didn't mean to, or pasted something when the wrong thing was in my paste buffer. The autocomplete logs have got to be a goldmine of private individual data, and confidential corporate data.

  • The fact that he's suing Google for putting "bankrupt" in the autocomplete virtually ensures the words are permanantly linked together now that the news everywhere is reporting that Google put "bankrupt" in the autocom... (cue infinite loop). And now not just on Google, but also on Bing, Yahoo and pretty much every other search engine that didn't previously put "bankrupt" next to his name.

    What an idiot.

  • "Are auto-complete results even useful?"

    Well, let's ask Google. [vortexcortex.com]
    Autocomplete is:
    Autocomplete is not a function
    Autocomplete is not working
    Autocomplete is not working in outlook 2010
    ...

    I'm afraid I have to agree with Google on this one.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      The topmost choice when typing "autocomplete" is "autocomplete off". What does that tell us?

  • Maybe Google should counter-sue everyone who searched for that term!
  • Google just wants to be helpful. In fact when I joined Google+, it asked me if I wanted to add my ex wife! (no)

    And when I search for a raccoon knit hat for my daughter's birthday, I get to see that ad on every website I visit for the next month! (argh)

    I don't know about you, Google is super helpful! /s

  • It isn't defamation if it's true. Good luck in court.

  • We are constantly fed with information and losing ability to think clearly.  How many times we are "autocompleting" when someone talks or communicates?  The politicians, subliminal messages, sound bytes.....is making us Pavlov dogs.

  • Don't attack weak statistical models as if they are the problem. Attack the behavior wherein people assume those models communicate meaningful information, or that their assumptions about that information are correct.

    He was bankrupt. It is public knowledge. Therefore this association exists. The inference that he is still bankrupt, or that the past status of bankruptcy should have any bearing on one's desire to engage him outright, is the problem. Google is not the problem here.

Administration: An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. -- Ambrose Bierce

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