This morning I tweeted1 what I thought was a funny comment on the ridiculousness of a litigious society:
After tweeting I thought a little deeper and came to fear the possibilities. Currently, the great comic site TheOatmeal.com is in danger of being sued by a content bottom-feeder FunnyJunk where one of the points of “damage” include:
… causing TheOatmeal.com to come up whenever “funkyjunk” is punched into the Google search engine. … you clearly intended this result.
Ignore that there appears to be a gross misunderstanding about how Google search ranking works nor that this threat against TheOatmeal is a gross reversal of blame. A truly scary possibility is that this may be the opening volley in SEO-related lawsuits.
Imagine if I were to write a blog post about my distaste for Pepsi2 and influential news organizations link to it. At the moment every single link on the first page of Google’s results for “Pepsi” belong to a PepsiCo entity, but what if my post were to replace one of these links? How might PepsiCo feel about this? I have no idea if the company would do something malicious based on such a scenario, but to bring suit against me would be a drop in their vast sea of money — to me it would be devastating financially.
SEO is a fairly well-known practice and companies like PepsiCo have it hammered down; however the possibility always exists that other sites could sneak into search results, and through the power of negativity they’ll likely not be complementary.
Are search rank losses the new libel?