A judge ruled that the ‘snippet’, which occured in the results of a search for ‘Zwartepoorte’ and ‘bankrupt’, may or may not give the false impression that the car dealer has gone bankrupt.
“To create the snippet, Google algorithms pulled both the ‘Zwartepoorte’ bit and the ‘bankrupt’ bit from the Miljoenhuizen.nl page. But they weren’t side-by-side on the page – as the ellipses indicate. That’s often how Google does things. If you Google two separate words, it shows you that each search result contains both of them,” explains the Register.
The site has reportedly removed the page.
Crucially, as the Register points out, the car dealer chose to sue the website not Google. (Interestingly now when you search for the same terms on Google blogs and news sites reporting the case appear in the results with the same snippet).
It’s a worrying precedent for online publishers – are there ways to prevent Google from summarising pages in this form?
Neil Thackray has 25 years experience in B2Bs, in senior roles at RBI, Miller Freeman and as CEO of Quantum Business. Most recently, he was CEO of Nexus Business Media, before stepping down a few weeks ago.
He gets off to a good start with his second blog post: ‘Starting a discussion about the future of B2B Media’. He looks at the effects of the internet on niche business to business publications. One effect “has been the result of the phenomonen you are reading now” – the rise of the lone or collaborating bloggers.
Meanwhile, far from business magazines being the ‘bible of the industry’, “they are reduced to being one of many sources of information in a world where reader loyalty is as fickle as a click on a Google search result,” Thackray argues.
This appeared in the search result for news about Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, in the second of Journalism.co.uk’s bizarre Google stumblings today (first here). Fluff cleverly hidden in the international grit…?