Friday, June 20, 2014

Does the Internet link things forever?

It is hard to imagine that any Reader(s)™ of this blog are not also aware of Seth Leventhal's fantastic blog Minnesota Litigator. But in the unlikely event that someone has not visited there first, today Seth ran this post about a high school student who is suing his former school because of how it handled a tweet written by the student. Seth linked to the Complaint the student filed in federal court. While Seth wrote about the cartoon used in paragraph 80 of the Complaint, a different section caught my attention.

Paragraph 106 of the Complaint states that because of the way the defendants in the case acted the student, Reid Sagehorn, has found that his "name is forever linked with the term 'felony,' as any Google search will confirm. This has destroyed his reputation and will be a detriment to his ability to find employment during and after college." As an aside, do potential employers do background checks by adding the word felony to a Google search of job applicants? I am not a human resources professional but I probably would not add the word felony when doing a search on a job applicant.  But I digress.

The Complaint was filed on June 17, 2014. Now, I do not know what a Google search of the words "Reid Sagehorn Felony" would have turned up prior to June 17. However, this is what you get if you do a Google search of those words today. In case you didn't click on the link, the top three results for those words are results about the lawsuit and the statements by one of the defendants that the student committed a felony. It would not surprise me if within the next couple of weeks, all of the results on the first page of a Google search for Reid Sagehorn felony will be to results about the lawsuit and not the events that prompted the lawsuit.

As Mr. Sagehorn's lawsuit pushes the Google results he disliked so much he sued about them onto a second or perhaps third results page, it presumably argues against the idea that the Internet will "forever" link Mr. Sagehorn with a felony. The Streisand effect is when the attempt to hide information via a lawsuit results in wider publicity for the information. What do you think Mr. Torvik, is this an example of the Streisand effect? Is it a crafty way of mitigating damages by pushing the damaging information off the front page of Google? When you type Reid Sagehorn into the Google search bar, did it suggest the word felony first? My first suggestion was "Reid Sagehorn teacher" which is presumably caused by dudes (at least I assume they are dudes) Googling to see what the teacher in this unfortunate affair looks like.  

In case you are interested, these are the search results for "Bart Torvik Felony" and these are the results for "Adam Gillette Felony."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the kind words. and thanks for the great thpughts and insights about the Sagehorn case. Busy times have prevented me from saying anything particularly intelligent myself.


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