Former first lady sues Google for suggesting she is a prostitute

Bettina Wulff  
By: Sarah Weiss 

A former first lady in Germany is suing search giant Google after its auto-complete suggests that she is a prostitute, according to reports in the news media.

The former first lady of Germany, Bettina Wulff is suing Google for defamation after the auto-complete results suggest that she had a previous life as a sex worker, according to a German newspaper.

When you perform a Google search of Ms. Wulff, the auto-complete of the popular search site routinely suggests adding the word "prostitute" to the query. This, of course, is because people are looking for exactly that after it has long been rumored that former German President Christian Wulff met his 38-year-old wife while she was working as a prostitute. The two married in 2008.

Ms. Wulff has been plagued by rumors of prostitution for years, and has begun to vigorously defend herself against them alone since her husband resigned amid scandal. In addition to suing Google, Wulff has filed a cease and desist order against 34 foreign and local bloggers, as well as a number of media personalities of Germany and Austria.

This type lawsuit may seem rare in the United States; after all, a Google search algorithm is only saying what other people are writing. But elsewhere, the legal action against auto-complete is not unprecedented.

Earlier this year, a Tokyo man successfully sued Google when he was fired after the auto-complete suggested that he was a thief.