Google is the most popular search engine globally, processing over three billion searches every day. The tech company also offers other products and services, including email, mapping, and video sharing.
Given its widespread use and popularity, it’s no surprise that people sometimes wonder if they can sue Google.
This blog post will explore whether or not you can sue Google and under what circumstances. Read on to learn more.
What Is Google?
Google was founded in 1995 by two Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The company started as a search engine but has since expanded to offer a suite of other products, including Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube.
Google is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and has over 70 offices in more than 40 countries. The company has more than 86,000 workers worldwide.
The company mainly generates its revenue through advertising. When users search for something on Google, they may see ads along with the search results. Advertisers pay Google to display these ads, and the company takes a cut of the revenue.
Over the years, Google has faced numerous accusations of antitrust behavior and monopoly abuse. In 2013, the European Commission fined Google $1.7 billion for violating antitrust laws.
And in 2017, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigated Google for potential antitrust violations but ultimately did not take any action against the company.
Can I Sue Google?
Generally, you cannot sue Google simply because you don’t like something that appears in your search results except in a few situations outlined below.
For example, if Google includes false or misleading information about you in its search results, you can file a lawsuit against the company. In this case, you will file a defamation lawsuit.
Defamation is the communication of a false statement about someone that causes harm to their reputation. For a statement to be considered defamatory, it must be false, published without privilege or authorization, and must have resulted in actual harm.
If you believe that Google has published false or misleading information about you in its search results, you should contact a defamation lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Another potential exception to the general rule that you cannot sue Google is if the company violates your privacy rights.
For example, if Google collects and discloses your personal information without your consent, you may have a claim for invasion of privacy.
You should contact a privacy lawyer to discuss your legal options if you believe that Google has invaded your privacy.
Understanding Section 230 Immunity
Federal Law in the United States protects Google and other tech companies from potential lawsuits based on content published exclusively by third parties.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a law that provides immunity from liability for online publishers for content published by third parties.
This law shields tech companies from being sued for defamation, invasion of privacy, and other potential claims based on the content published on their platforms.
Section 230 does not protect tech companies from liability for their own content or content they help to create or develop.
For example, if Google were to publish a blog post that contained false and defamatory information about someone, that person could sue Google for defamation.
However, if a third-party user published a blog post on Google’s platform that contained false and defamatory information about someone, Google would likely be immune from liability under Section 230.
What Are the Statutory Exceptions to Section 230?
The law does provide a few limited exceptions to Section 230 immunity.
For example, if the content is determined to be illegal under federal law, tech companies can be sued for publishing that content.
In addition, Section 230 does not protect against copyright or trademark infringement claims.
If you believe that Google has published content that infringes on your copyright or trademark, contact an experienced lawyer to find out your legal options.
Finally, Section 230 does not protect against state law claims, sex trafficking, and child pornography.
So, if you live in a state with its own defamation laws, you may be able to sue Google for defamation even if a third party publishes the content at issue.
The same is true for sex trafficking and child pornography. While these activities are illegal under federal law, they are also prohibited under state law.
As a result, Section 230 does not protect against claims of sex trafficking or child pornography, and you may be able to sue Google if it publishes content related to these illegal activities.
Generally, you cannot sue Google simply because you don’t like something that appears in your search results.
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if Google includes false or misleading information about you in its search results.
You should contact a defamation lawyer to discuss your legal options if you believe that Google has published false or misleading information about you.