I never was a fan of Christian Wulff, Germany's former president who earlier this year was forced to resign in disgrace. Wulff and his wife Bettina were always more interested in the perks of the office instead of serving their country. Ever since Christian Wulff was nominated for the office in 2010 there have been whispers concerning Bettina and her alledged previous work as a call girl. The rumors persist even today, and instead of just ignoring the allegations Frau Wulff has decided to fan the flames by suing eveyone in sight for defamation and slander.
When you search for “Bettina Wulff” on Google, the search engine will happily autocomplete this search with terms like “escort” and “prostitute.” That’s obviously not something you would like to be associated with your name, so the wife of former German president Christian Wulff has now, according to Germany’s Süddeutschen Zeitung, decided to sue Google for defamation. The reason why these terms appear in Google’s autocomplete is that there have been persistent rumors that Wulff worked for an escort service before she met her husband. Wulff categorically denies that this is true.
German’s former first lady now wants to ensure that Google stops autocompleting searches for her name with these terms. The rumors, she claims according to the German newspaper’s report, are “defamation” and have “destroyed her reputation.” For the most part, of course, Google suggestions just reflect how widespread these rumors are on the Internet. Google’s algorithms, after all, make these suggestions based on its analysis of what the majority of Internet users search for.
Going after Google is absurd, since the technology simply reflects the search engine's user behavior. The lawsuit is also counterproductive, since the publicity only ensures that the search term "Bettina Wulf" will always be linked to "Prostitute", just as "Rick Santorum" will always be linked to ....uh, whatever.
In general, I agree with Jakob Augstein's comment in Der Spiegel:
"Die Logik der Suchmaschine darf nicht von den Interessen des Einzelnen gebeugt werden"
("The logic of the search engine shouldn't be influenced by the interests of the individual.")