Google Makes It Easier For Sites To Cut Off Free Publicity

from the if-you-really-think-that-will-help... dept

Google’s found itself on the end of some lawsuits from people who aren’t happy that it links to their web content, usually making the off-base accusation that Google’s somehow stealing their content, rather than realizing it makes it more valuable by making it easier to find. While a robots.txt file or the use of meta tags already gave web masters a relatively simple way to keep their content out of Google and other search engines, that apparently wasn’t enough, so Google has beefed up its site removal tools, giving webmasters several new ways and options to control how their pages are indexed and displayed in its results. Will this stop the lawsuits and complaints? That’s doubtful, since the existing ability for site owners to get themselves taken out of Google’s results wasn’t enough. Furthermore, it seems like this could open up a new avenue of complaints for Google, since it gives third parties the ability to have pages removed from Google’s cache or have pages that contain personal information removed from the index. Anything Google does is unlikely to make much difference, since its power and riches makes it an attractive target for lawsuits. Meanwhile, it would also seem that anything Google does won’t make some site owners understand how it and other search engines are their friends, not their foes.

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Comments on “Google Makes It Easier For Sites To Cut Off Free Publicity”

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sam says:


1st.. a robots.txt file is simply voluntary. i can easily create a crawler, and ignore the file completely.

2nd.. the issue of ownership is pretty well defined. if i write/create something, even if i put it on a website, the content is mine. i can do what i want with it. if i don’t want google, but i do want msn, that’s my choice.

i’m not arguing it makes sense if i really want more users, but it is the content owner’s choice/right.

but in all honesty, giving someone the right/ability/tools to clear out information from the chaches, that is their information makes sense..

but this gets interesting….

if i write something about you, that you don’t like.. who owns it!!


Adam says:

Yeah these companies need to realize..

there’s never a good reason to put something on the Internet that you don’t want made 100% public. Like wanting to share information outside of your Intranet but only with a select group, without the need for password management systems. That would never happen. Or 1000 other scenarios. They are all impossible and if they do they are obviously misunderstandings on the part of companies who don’t truly understand the value of putting out semi-sensitive information for the world to see.

paul says:

not exactly...

in reply to sam> Your 2nd option isn’t exactly correct. If something is publicly available on the internet then any can make a reference to it. Its purely by the Search engines graces that content can be removed.

However if you have some sort of authentication to prevent all but allowed parties to view the content then you can be exclusive.

Chris (user link) says:

I don't think so

“it seems like this could open up a new avenue of complaints for Google, since it gives third parties the ability to have pages removed from Google’s cache or have pages that contain personal information removed from the index.”

From what I have seen, these new tools are prety useful. I can see my website as google sees it and see how I can improve it so I get a better ranking. In order to see any of this data you have to prove you are the owner of the site (by uploading a html page or adding a certain meta tag) so I don’t think it will be third parties

Shelvin Datt (user link) says:

Dear Sam

Dear Sam,
This is why Google will not be sued, and your crawler, along with any search engine you design will be sued. Google have always respected the robot.txt files, on web sites that I have created.

When you submit your site via Google, Google say that you should not submit sensitive information, about yourself and others.

Another thing, Google do not present the contents of any website as their own, even when you use the cached option on their pages, it’s still your published content.

You could argue that the cached content on Google is yours and should not be there in their cache, but then you will be told that you should not submit your site to Google for inclusion.

Another thing, caching is a common technique in data communication, so every time your site data is transmitted via the internet through another persons server, routers, hubs etc it is cached to a certain degree, to speed internet transmission, if another person uses the same server, router or hub path to your website. You could effectively argue that the routers, are now hosting your site, and your web server has lost control of your content.

In fact your cache hosted content on these routers, now can be spiked by crackers. It’s an older form of internet content tagging, where your web page will appear with naughty words, with your name as the publisher and seem as if it was coming directly from your site, to any public member attempting to visit your site via that particular router with the changed cache content.

If you put something about me on the internet, you own as you are the author of it, but if I believe it not to be true, I can sue you for slander. And because you are the author of it, I should not be allowed to use tools to remove it, it’s your authored content in that case. I should take you to court, an option which I would weigh with a cost/benefit analysis, as taking you to court may put the media spot light on the issue, which may not be in my favour, i.e. now the whole world knows about it, or have it published under their noses in the morning paper, when on the web only a few who searched for that information would have known about it.

Again, if you were a commercial entity with commercial rivals, for example take Soft’s Xune, and Bpple’s EPod. Soft publish some content on how good and great Xune are as a portable personal music studio, and then because of tools available that allow just about anyone to remove someone else’s content from a search engine, Bpple go and do that, and in place put content on how good EPod is.

Please note this is only an example, not something that has actually happened yet. But in this case discussed above who is liable, Bpple or Google.

Google will say Bpple, Bpple will say Google, when in truth Bpple will be liable, but then Bpple may say that a naive employee of theirs did it, and Bpple is not liable, because should Google have not made such a tool the naive Bpple employee would not have been able to change content, so its Google’s responsibility to only make these tools available to the original content author/provider only. So the tool should check if you are the content author, and only then allow the content to be removed from its search engine.

A better defense for Bpple would be to say some member of the public did it, well, well, in that case Google is liable, and guess who Soft will be chasing.

Of course I have no idea how Google are going to enforce who is the original content author, as sometimes the Author of content is not the submitter of content to search engines. Take TechDirt for example, will submit this content authored by me onto Google and numerous other search engines.

Aha, now Google is response for something I said on Tech Dirt, I think not!!

Anyway I think that Google allowing site owners to remove their own site from its search engine is enough, but I am not comfortable with this idea, as it gives another third party the ability to remove my site from Google’s search engine, I think the robot.txt is enough, as pages I don’t want on Google or any other search engine, I would state so in the robot.txt file.

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