07 Feb “Google needs to take more responsibility” says Jamie McIntyre
The fight against online defamation has reached a new level of success with Google being ordered to pay $200k to a Melbourne man who sued the company for falsely linking him to underworld figures on US search engines.
Michael Trkulja was shot in the back as he dined in a St Albans restaurant in 2004.
He sued Google upon finding that a search of his name would bring up his image on the same page as convicted drug boss Tony Mokbel.
An article about his shooting was published under the heading “Melbourne crime”.
The false linking by Google resulted in immense physical injury and mental trauma for an innocent individual. Yahoo!7 also recently paid off Trkluja for publishing similar material through their search engine.
Akin to the case above, last year, best-selling author and motivational speaker Jamie McIntyre was the target of a hate-site that tried to tarnish his reputation.
Jamie McIntyre won a landmark legal case against Google with the Supreme Court ordering the company to release the account details of Google account holder who was running Google ads to the hate site.
It is believed to be the first legal victory in the world against a new media company regarding online attacks and the victory went around the world in legal circles as a precedent case.
In their defence, a spokesperson from Google recently stated that:
“The results displayed by the search engine were a reflection of the content and information available on the internet.
“The sites in Google’s search results are controlled by those sites’ webmasters, not by Google”.
The above statement reflects a lack of conscience and responsibility on Google’s end. The company over the years has revolutionised access to information, which is a good thing. However, they seem to negate the most commonly used phrase from Spiderman “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility”.
Google being the most popular search engine is the ‘go-to’ click for any fact-based query or debate. Most people take articles and information published on Google at face value. As a result, shouldn’t the company feel accountable for the search results they produce?
The false and defamatory articles on a search engine like Google have the potential to create irreparable damage to an individual’s personal life, safety, career and reputation.
For instance, Mr Trkulja had been a show business manager for 40 years, had a top rating television show in the 1990s and was a highly respected member of the Serbian community in Melbourne.
No amount of money can actually compensate for the distress and shock of being shot at randomly and then dealing with the horrors of your reputation being questioned.
Mr Jamie McIntyre who also experienced injustice due to Google’s lack of responsibility is the founder of over a dozen companies with a turnover of $40 million and a client base of 500,000 from over 17 countries.
He was determined that Google Australia is the only Australian company that knew the author behind the slanderous site because of its paid advertising relationship with the website.
Mr McIntyre’s company, 21st Century Education, offers self-help seminars in financial education. The entrepreneur is the author of 10 books including bestseller What I Didn’t Learn at School but Wish I had.
As it can be determined, Mr McIntyre too is well known in the world of financial education and motivational speaking as he networks and hosts events such as the Financial Education Summit with leading entrepreneurs, for e.g. Richard Branson, Randi Zuckerberg, Ruslan Kogan, Mark Bouris and Eddie McGuire amongst others.
In relation to Michael Trkulja’s case, Mr McIntyre said “I think it’s good that Google is been held accountable as they have the power to destroy companies or individuals by allowing false and damaging articles to exist on Google searches. They need to be more committed about removing such material or else they risk continuous legal action and damage claims.
The Internet and social networking is intended as a development that changes the world with freedom of speech, interaction and democratisation of media. Healthy debate on an online forum can only help in growth and awareness. However, the slander, trolling and defamation cannot. Over the last few years, some people have been taking advantage of the privilege and it is about time some online regulation/responsibility is introduced on this ever-expanding global forum.