Several attorneys who specialize in Internet defamation law say that search engine Bing has recently changed its policy and is no longer complying with court-ordered removals of defamatory content.
Such court-ordered removals are often requested as part of defamation lawsuits by reputation management attorneys, and obtained on behalf of a person or business.
Removal orders are a useful tool to combat against sites such as Ripoff Report and other complaint sites based offshore, which usually refuse to remove defamatory content from their websites under any circumstances.
Although the content may remain on the website, if a person or business is able to obtain a valid court order against the author of the post, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will usually agree to permanently remove the page from its search indices.
Reputation attorneys have had great success using this method in the past. After all, it is more important for negative results to be removed from search engines than from a site very few people would search on. If the negative content can’t be found, there is not much to worry about.
However, lately it seems that Bing, which also powers Yahoo’s search results, is no longer complying with defamatory content removal requests.
Bing’s Official Policy on Defamatory Removals
Several prominent Internet reputation attorneys I’ve spoken with said that Bing previously accepted removal orders, and allege that Bing has recently unofficially changed its policy quietly and no longer does.
Nothing has officially changed, anyway. According to this Bing help page, Bing’s policy on defamatory content removals is:
“We may remove displayed search results containing allegedly defamatory content. For example, we might remove a displayed search result if we receive a valid and narrow court order indicating that a particular link has been found to be defamatory.”
Evidence to the Contrary
Internet defamation attorney Aaron Minc, recently received a denial letter from Bing on his request to remove defamatory URLs based on a court order. The full copy of the letter has been posted on Minc’s Blog.
After speaking with Minc further, he explained why he was surprised by Bing’s apparent change in policy regarding court order removals.
“In the past, I have submitted court orders to Bing on multiple occasions to request removal of URLs from its search index that contains defamation,” Minc said. “The court orders are narrowly defined, they specify the exact URLs that we want to be removed, and they include what specific language in the URLs we want to be removed is defamatory.
“I have never previously had a court order rejected by Bing. I found it particularly surprising that the Bing chose to reject the court order that I submitted given the circumstances underlying the case.”
The order stemmed from a case involving two ex-employees of a company, who demanded that their ex-employer pay them $150,000 or that they were going to absolutely ruin their business to the point that they would have to change their name and industry. Their plan almost worked.
When the company refused to pay, the employees took to posting dozens of slanderous and horribly detrimental lies about the company and its owners on websites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer, labeling the company as a scam and falsely accusing the business of committing several state and federal laws and stealing from its employees. The business quickly began to lose profits and customers.
After over a year of extremely contentious and hard fought litigation, the ex-employees and company finally agreed to settle the matter. In the court-ordered settlement signed by both parties, the two ex-employees admitted that the content they posted was false and agreed to have the content removed from web pages and search indices, along with posting redactions to their statements.
“Bing’s response was extremely disappointing,” Minc said. “I just don’t understand why Bing decided to suddenly change its policy, when it seemed to have no problem assisting victims of defamation in the past who obtained valid court orders.
“A lot of businesses and individuals really relied on Bing’s prior actions and policy, and are going to suffer significant harm from its change in policy. Google had no problem removing every URL we requested to be taken down.”
Minc recently published a follow-up post stating that he has received calls from several other attorneys and individuals who are upset about the new policy change.
More Removal Requests Rejected by Bing
Internet lawyer Aaron Kelly has had a similar experience. Mr. Kelly has submitted dozens of court orders to Bing in the past to remove defamatory URLs from its search index without issue. Now, Bing has rejected every single court order that he has recently submitted.
“What’s most surprising about Bing’s apparent change in policy is that the company is rejecting court orders that it previously has accepted in the past,” Kelly said.
Earlier this year, the website Ripoff Report re-indexed all of the content on its website, which slightly changed the URLs of all of the content posted on the site. Because of the re-index, content on Ripoff Report URLs that Bing had previously agreed to remove from its search index after being provided a valid court order, are now re-appearing in its search engine results. According to Kelly, Bing is refusing to continue to remove the exact same content on the new URLs.
Kelly is equally surprised and disappointed by Bing’s policy developments as Minc.
“I just don’t get it,” Kelly said. “This is causing significant harm to my clients.”
Sourced through Scoop.it from: searchenginewatch.com