Ireland hotel sues Google over ‘receivership’ search result

BALLYMASCANLON, IRELAND A hotel is suing Google Inc. over a libelous search engine result that falsely implies the property has gone into receivership.

Management of Ballymascanlon House Hotel, Golf and Leisure Club in Ireland says Google’s false search result has cost the property many bookings, particularly from brides who worry the hotel could close before their wedding day.

The dispute involves Google’s autocomplete technology, which offers up suggestions for popular searches after a user types in only a portion of a query. In this case, typing “ballymascanlon” into the query field displays the term “ballymascanlon hotel receivership” as the second option.

“We would have brides looking to book 2013 weddings and it’s very hard for them to decide to pay a deposit in confidence when they see that we’re possibly in receivership and we’re not,” General Manager Chris Brayden tells “The company’s sound—we’ve been trading for 60 years. We couldn’t ignore it anymore.”

A representative for Google Ireland says such autocomplete results are automatically generated by an algorithm based on the most common hotel searches. Why “ballymascanlon hotel receivership” originally became a popular search is anyone’s guess, but as word of the lawsuit spreads, the phrase could become even further entrenched as more people execute the search terms to see it for themselves.

Still, as Mashable points out, there is precedent for Google to manually alter autocomplete results, although this has typically been done in the past to counter copyright piracy.