This is a first…News site sued for the way Google summarised one of its pages (updated)

This is a first…News site sued for the way Google summarised one of its pages (updated)

picture-112An entirely separate site, Google, has managed to get a Dutch community news site successfully sued., a network of user-edited news portals, has been sued by a local BMW dealer, Zwartepoorte, because a Google search for “Zwartepoorte + bankrupt” returned a page description, or “snippet”, that supposedly gave the impression that the local BMW dealer has gone bankrupt.

What’s most surprising is that no-one at had ever even written a story about Zwartepoorte and bankruptcy, Google’s algorithm had joined together two unrelated sentences from the site for its index abstract.

Google had summarized it with the following snippet (translated into English):

“Complete name: Zwartepoorte Specialiteit: BMW…This company has been declared bankrupt, it has been acquired by the motordealer I have worked for Boat Rialto…” owner told De Telegraaf :

“If the search result were to imply or insinuate that Zwartepoorte has gone bust, it would be Google’s responsibility, not ours.”

Nevertheless, a judge has ruled that the website is liable and the site was ordered to fix its own site in such a way that Google couldn’t make the same mistake again – failure to comply would mean a €500-a-day fine.

**UPDATE** founder Nico Schoonderwoerd has been in touch with us and shared his letter to Google requesting assistance (pasted below). If you’re reading this and you are able to give any assistance or provide evidence of a comparable case internationally – please leave your contact details in comments or be in touch with me via email at [email protected]

Dear Sir/Madam,

Last Wednesday the Dutch court for urgent affairs (voorzieningenrechter) ordered me to do the following:

veroordeelt Schoonderwoerd om binnen twee dagen na betekening van dit vonnis de inrichting van de website zodanig aan te passen en aangepast te houden, dat niet langer via deze website, door middel van de zoekmachine van Google, een zoekresultaat wordt weergegeven waarin de onjuist indruk wordt gewekt dat Zwartep00rte fai11iet is

which says that I have to change such that no longer a search result is displayed which gives the wrong impression that Zwartep00rte is bankrupt.

Directly after this verdict I have updated the page such that the word “fai11iet” is no longer mentioned, therefore excluding the possibility for the Google system to combine the words “fai11iet” and “Zwartep00rte”.

This combination of these search terms leads in Google to the following page:

and shows as a second search result

zwartep00rte – Informatie en meningen over 

Volledige naam: Zwartep00rte Specialiteit: BMW  Dit bedrijf is fai11iet verklaard, het is overgenomen door het motorhuis Ik heb bij Boot Rialto gewerkt – 12k – In cache – Gelijkwaardige pagina’s

As you may know, the search result will only be updated once the Google crawler passes by the website. As the verdict of the judge leaves room for interpretation, this may mean that the verdict is not correctly executed, and I will be held responsible for this. I am to pay 500 euros for every day that I do not comply with this verdict (which is attached).

My urgent request

Please let your crawler visit http://zwartep00rte.bedrijven.klup.nland have the corresponding search results be updated within 2 days, or give me instructions how I can achieve this.

Best regards,

Nico Schoonderwoerd


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