Delayed Search Database Updating Isn’t Defamation–Ferrell v. Yahoo and Google

This lawsuit is another unsuccessful attempt to manufacture an American “right to be forgotten.” Keyonna Ferrell sued Google and Yahoo pro se because allegedly she removed images from Pinterest but the search engines didn’t update their search results to reflect the removal. She claimed the continued publication of the removed images constituted defamation. It doesn’t:

Ferrell alleges that she put information on the internet that remained accessible through the Yahoo search engine and thus available for viewing by the public after she had removed the images from Pinterest. She also alleges that a video not associated with her appears among search results based on her name. Nothing about this allegation suggests that the information made available was false. Ferrell therefore fails to state a claim for defamation.

(The court used similar language in its Google opinion).

The court doesn’t say how many days elapsed between the alleged Pinterest removals and Google/Yahoo’s alleged failure to update their search database, nor do we know if Google and Yahoo had good reasons for delaying their deletions. I do know we’d see many dubious lawsuits if plaintiffs can sue search engines for taking too long to delete removed items from their databases. Then again, Europe’s RBTF requirement that search engines delete “outdated” information seemingly mandates that result. So this case appears to be a fine example of how US and EU policy apparently lead to different outcomes.

Case citations: Ferrell v. Yahoo, 2015 WL 4637776 (D. Md. July 31, 2015) and Ferrell v. Google, 2015 WL 4637767 (D. Md. July 31, 2015).

Related posts:

* Reports on Expunged Arrest Can’t Be Erased From the Internet–Martin v. Hearst

* Will A ‘Cast Of Thousands’ Become A ‘Cast Of Thousands…Of Plaintiffs’? A Preview of Garcia v. Google

* Primer on European Union’s Right To Be Forgotten (Excerpt from My Internet Law Casebook) + Bonus Linkwrap

* Of Course The First Amendment Protects Baidu’s Search Engine, Even When It Censors Pro-Democracy Results

* California’s New ‘Online Eraser’ Law Should Be Erased

* When Should Search Engines Ignore Court Orders To Remove Search Results?