Google may face legal action over Ashley Cole searches

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The internet search engine, Google, may face legal action following the way it presents search results relating to the Arsenal and England defender, Ashley Cole.

Customers seeking information using the keywords, “Ashley Cole” are controversially now shown additional information for the keywords, “Ashley Cole gay” within the main body of their requested search results.

Until now, Google’s automatic suggestion tool had suggested alternative search terms to users who may have mistyped or misspelled keywords or suggest additional terms to help customers locate the information they are seeking. For example, a search for “potatoe” would prompt Google to display the following text: “Did you mean: potato” and allow users to click on the correct spelling to find the information on the root vegetable.

However, a search for “Ashley Cole” displays the first three listings about the player, his profile on, and Further search results for the keyword “Ashley Cole gay” are then displayed, including a listing for, who published the original, pre-doctored version of the photograph first printed in the News of the World. Other listings include blogs (that we can not name for legal reasons) who speculate over the identity of the other footballer allegedly implicated in the News of the World story.

Graham Shear, solicitor for Ashley Cole told “I am keen to find out whether the decision to automatically include the term “gay” to the keyword ‘Ashley Cole’ was an editorial decision or more revealingly, one made by a computer based on the volume of searches for ‘Ashley Cole’ linked to the word ‘gay’.

“I would be interested in when and what prompted this and whether the process started since we launched the cases against the News of the World and the Sun or before. Perhaps Google can explain what happened and why.”

A spokesperson for Google said that they were not aware of the listing but suggested that it was not initiated by a human with editorial control. Google would not disclose the list of keywords that it offers this function on.

4,509 users located the article on Ashley Cole using variations of the keywords “Ashley Cole gay” on Google since last Thursday.

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