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No. 146
November 17th, 2008

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Reputation Management, Argentinian-Style

I recently came across this amazing article on For those too lazy, or without the time, to click the link, here’s the opening paragraph (emphasis mine):

Argentines clicking on the local version of Yahoo in search of information about their country’s most legendary soccer star (and current national team coach) are in for a disappointment. All they’ll see is a disclaimer in Spanish stating: “Due to a court order requested by private parties, we find ourselves obliged to temporarily suspend all or some of the results related to this search.” The only exceptions are links to major news media sites. Nor is this peculiar result exclusive to searches for Diego Maradona. The soccer star is just one of 110 major public figures in Argentina to have secured a court order restraining the Argentine versions of Google and Yahoo from serving up search results on their names.

Bottom line: apparently Maradona and other Argentine celebs are more willing to go through a lengthy court battle than shell out a few dollars for reputation management by some real experts. Surely buying a few thousand links to positive YouTube videos and other news stories would have been cheaper than all the legal fees…

…scarier, though, are the implications that this kind of censorship has on future precedent. Where do the search engines fit into the notion of “freedom of the press” … ?

  • Tom

    Thanks for the link 🙂

    Wow – that’s some heavy stuff. At least at the moment there is a warning advising that the results are censored – in future I can imagine that the results would be edited without us knowing about it.

    Also – I like the way they didn’t get one from live, obviously not that bothered about live’s search volume!

  • John T

    Thanks for this story. These public figures claim it’s because they don’t want to be linked to porn web sites, but I think it’s more than that. It brought my mind back to Charles Barkley’s 1993 comment, “I am not a role model.”

    They seem not to want to have negative associations of themselves on the web. In societies that value free speech, is this really possible. From a technical point of view, it was interesting that, “Even entering an alternate spelling, such as “Maradon,” still turns up a massive number of links to actual Maradona articles.’ This poses an interesting question for the Argentine courts, namely, to what length do you go to prohibit these searches? Do you give a specific list of search terms, or do you limit it to the name only?

    I was very pleased that the notification was placed on the search results.

    Thanks again for the great story.

  • John, thanks for stopping by. Those are GREAT questions — where do the courts draw the line? So few of them seem to understand Internet law, one wonders how effective they’re going to be with such a complicated issue…