Google filters when it feels like it
When Google launched Orkut early this year, it could hardly have expected the social network would take off in Brazil, where it now has upwards of eight million users. That's the unpredictable side of viral, word-of-mouth marketing. Even less predictable, and less desirable, was the arrival on the site of Brazilian child pornographers. Now Google is facing an angry Brazilian prosecutor who says "Orkut has become a paradise for pedophiles," and has begun pushing for a criminal investigation of Google's Brazilian division. Google, for its part, claims it has "no responsibility" for the content of user postings. The situation has prompted blogs to reprise the censorship vs. security debate, with at least one Digg reader finding irony in the disconnect between Google's idealistic company slogan and its more narrowly defined legal strategy: "Do No Evil......just allow it and accrue advertising revenue from it."

In another legal headache for Google, PC World reported yesterday that ServersCheck BVBA, a Belgian software firm, has filed a suit against Google, arguing that the "Suggest" feature in the popular Google toolbar, which offers users a more narrow set of search results, pushes users to pirated versions of the ServersCheck software. In response, Google contends that it can't "filter" the results of its algorithm-driven software. But ServersCheck CEO Maarten Van Laere points out that the algorithm in question already does filter out sites related to pornography, and wonders why it can be tweaked for one purpose but not another. Slashdot users are delighted by Google's apparent doublespeak, and support Van Laere's contention: "From a programming point of view, Google doesn't really have a leg to stand on," writes one Slashdotter.
Posted by Oliver Ryan 10:14 AM 0 Comments comment | Add a Comment

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