Former first lady suing Google over auto-completes

Google noticed you were searching for a former head of state's wife. Did you mean to search for how to buy that former head of state's wife as a prostitute? Former first lady of Germany Bettina Wulff is suing Google for libel over auto-complete results that suggest she had a former life as a sex worker, according to the German newspaper "Suddeutsche Zeitung."

When performing a Google search for Ms. Wulff, the popular search site's autocomplete function routinely suggests you add the words "prostitute" and "escort" to your query. This, of course, is because people are searching for exactly that — it has long been rumored in Germany that former President Christian Wulff met his 38-year-old wife while she was working as a prostitute. The two were married in 2008.

Ms. Wulff has been plagued with prostitution rumors for years, and has started fighting back vigorously against them only since her husband resigned office amidst scandal in February 2012. In addition to suing Google, Wulff has filed cease and desist orders against 34 foreign and domestic bloggers, as well as a number of media outlets and personalities in Germany and Austria.

This kind of suit may seem unusual in the United States — after all, a Google search algorithm is only telling you what other people are typing. But elsewhere in the world, legal action against auto-completes is not unprecedented. Earlier this year, a Tokyo man successfully sued Google when his employed fired him over autocomplete's suggestion he was a thief.

[Image credit: Closeup of German flag via Shutterstock]
[via The Verge]

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Tecca

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