Keystrokes in Google Bare Shocking Rumors About Bettina Wulff - NYTimes.com:
Say a schoolchild writing a homework assignment about Bettina Wulff entered her name into the search engine. “Bettina Wulff prostitute,” Google’s autocomplete function would helpfully but perhaps slanderously suggest. “Bettina Wulff escort” would pop up for good measure.
“I was stunned,” Ms. Wulff, who vehemently denied the accusations, told the weekly newsmagazine Stern, one of several publications to feature her on the cover in recent weeks. “I felt powerless and cried a lot.”
Taking an aggressive tack against the rumors, she filed a lawsuit against Google in a Hamburg court.
Her suit signals the latest effort to force the Internet giant to play the role of online referee, following close behind Google’s decision to block an inflammatory anti-Muslim video from YouTube in certain countries.
In Ms. Wulff’s case, Google has countered that it is not to blame for her troubles. “All of the queries shown in Autocomplete have been typed previously by other Google users,” Kay Oberbeck, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement that suggested it was the curiosity of the many, and not the assessment of the company, that was causing the offending terms to pop up.