A federal judge has sided with Google and dismissed a lawsuit filed by e-ventures Worldwide, a search engine optimization (SEO) company that claimed that its sites were wrongly removed from search results.
e-ventures Worldwide v Google
It has generally been held that the First Amendment of the US Constitution gives search engines near-total discretion over ranking algorithms and the content on their pages. However, a Florida court previously allowed a case against Google to survive the motion to dismiss. Yet, three years later, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson in the Middle District of Florida has effectively ended the litigation in Google’s favor.
“Google’s actions in formulating rankings for its search engine and in determining whether certain websites are contrary to Google’s guidelines and thereby subject to removal are the same as decisions by a newspaper editor regarding which content to publish, which article belongs on the front page, and which article is unworthy of publication,” Magnuson said in a ruling. “The First Amendment protects these decisions, whether they are fair or unfair, or motivated by profit or altruism.”
e-ventures filed the lawsuit late in 2014 alleging in its original complaint that Google had removed 231 sites associated with the company. Google allegedly notified the SEO Company that sites would be delisted because they were “pure spam.”
It’s strange that the court waited for this long to come to its decision. And some insist the earlier court’s failure to grant the search engine giant’s original motion to dismiss the suit was a legal error. Still, the decision obviously reinforces Google’s right to delist sites that it considers spam. It’s something all businesses with an online presence would do well to remember.
Spam Photo via Shutterstock