Google logo

News has emerged this week that a French court has ordered online monolith search engine Google to remove links on its search engine to images of ex-motorsport boss Max Mosley that depicted Mosley engaging in what has been deemed by mass media as an ‘orgy’ with prostitutes.

This is just the latest development in a scandal that has taught the world the damage Google can do to your online reputation.

The scandal originated back in 2008 when UK newspaper News of the World, now out of print, published the pictures which showed the former president of the motor sports world governing body engaged in acts with multiple prostitutes across its front pages. Mosley ended up winning a landmark breach of privacy case through the UK court system the same year, with the UK courts awarding him £60,000 after a judge ruled that the overarching theme of the article, which suggested that these pictures held a ‘Nazi’ theme to them, was unfounded and that there had been a legal breach of his privacy. However, the damage was already done. Mud can sometimes stick and Google made sure that in Mosley’s case, it stuck harder than glue.

Mr Mosley has since told various news sources that this continued propagation of these pictures by the search engine, which when he originally contacted them said they would remove links connected to the story on a case by case basis, led him to take legal action against the company in France and Germany. He suggested that the base of his case came from his request for Google to reprogramme its technology to ensure that these images and content did not show up at all in searches. The search engine reacted by refusing as “a matter of principle” even though they’d stated that it was “technically feasible” to do so.

The French victory this week for Mr Mosley has done nothing to deter the search engine from this policy; it has since said that it fully intends to appeal this decision by the French legal system and that the ruling “should worry all those who defend freedom of expression on the internet.” This continues Google’s trend of neglecting local laws on privacy due to its overarching American principle of freedom of speech.

So what does this say about Google’s role in online reputation management? At Igniyte Online Reputation Management it seems clear that this ruling follow others which have placed this demand on Google. The search engine is not going to change its privacy policy any time soon; this means that even negative content which goes against national laws will remain on the search rankings due to Google’s overriding philosophy of freedom of speech. This suggests that online reputation management is increasing in its necessity, since it remains the only active method at the general public’s disposal to thwart the role of Google in dragging down stellar online reputations.