Google Searches Tie Bettina Wulff to Prostitution

Now the former German first lady is suing

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 10, 2012 11:23 PM CDT | Updated Sep 11, 2012 12:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – Is it a political dirty trick, or did the "search algorithms" do it? The wife of Germany's former president is suing Google because Internet searches link her name to prostitution, reports the BBC. Google executives are blaming the company's automatic search algorithms for words like "prostitute," bordello," and "red light district" popping up when users type in Bettina Wulff's name. Wulff has sworn in an affidavit that she has never worked as a prostitute or escort, and is demanding the search results be "fixed." Some observers believe the search results are a deliberate smear to derail the career of Wulff's husband, Christian.

Wulff has spent more than two years battling allegations that she once worked as a prostitute. Her lawyers have already issued 34 successful cease-and-desist orders against the press and media personalities, and last week sued Google for defamation, reports Der Spiegel, which claims that Google has complied in the past with powerful lobbying interests to scrub search results. A Google Germany representative denies the company has any culpability because search terms are "algorithmically generated" and "include the popularity of the entered search terms." All "terms that appear have been previously entered by Google users," the spokesman added in a statement.

Former German President Christian Wulff, left, and his wife Bettina wave to guests after the Grossen Zapfenstreich ceremony, which was held to mark his departure from office, in Berlin, March 8, 2012.
Former German President Christian Wulff, left, and his wife Bettina wave to guests after the Grossen Zapfenstreich ceremony, which was held to mark his departure from office, in Berlin, March 8, 2012....   (AP Photo/dapd/Clemens Bilan)
Germany's new President Christian Wulff kisses his wife, Bettina, at the Reichstag building, in Berlin in 2010.
Germany's new President Christian Wulff kisses his wife, Bettina, at the Reichstag building, in Berlin in 2010.   (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
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