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Google fined for faulty word suggestion

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08:46 CET+01:00

Google France has been ordered to pay €50,000 ($64,670) to a French company after its search engine automatically added the word "escroc" ("crook" or "swindler") after the company's name.

The American internet giant's search engine includes Google Suggest, an auto-complete system which suggests the rest of the phrase based on the first few characters or words typed in.

Google was forced to pay up after the action was brought by insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie.

A Paris court held that the addition of the offending word "was offensive towards the company." The court said that Google should be able to exercise "human control" over the functioning of words suggested by its search engine.

Google said the auto-complete functionality was not the "expression of a human thought", an "opinion" or a "value judgement or criticism" but was the result of its automatic algorithm. 

BFM Business news reported that the company ran into similar problems when an individual found his name was automatically followed by "violeur" ("rapist").

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