January 17, 2017
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A popular Irish hotel has sued Google for defamation because Google’s autocomplete feature suggests to searchers that the hotel is in receivership. The hotel made multiple attempts to contact Google about the issue and resolve it away from court.
Searchers looking for the Ballymascanlon Hotel - a four-star property that’s reportedly one of the most popular wedding venues in northeast Ireland and is not in financial trouble - see “ballymascanlon hotel receivership” as an autocomplete suggestion as soon as they’ve typed only eight letters of the hotel name. According to a recent Sunday Times article (quoted here by TJ McIntyre), some brides have contacted the hotel “in tears” after seeing the autocomplete suggestion, no doubt fearing that their wedding plans would have to be scrapped.
As Mark Collier writes, the hotel isn’t seeking punitive damages from Google; the suit only asks for an injunction to stop Google from showing the autocomplete suggestion about receivership, and for Google to pay the hotel’s legal fees.
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