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Friday, February 3, 2023

Search Engines Do Not Have To Display All Ads Says Court

Eric Goldberg summarizes a court decision in Langdon v. Google (PDF) showing a court deciding how search engines do not have to display all ads. Langdon took Google to court to force Google to display ads that “attacked people.” Reportedly, Langdon is a complainer or griper and he wanted to use search ads to air his complaints. The court ruled in favor of Google, “calling some of his claims “specious” and “frivolous.”


Eric Goldman said this court ruling will “help search engines in future litigation,” specifically with these key points:

  • Search engines have a First Amendment right to reject ads as part of their protected right to speak or not.
  • Search engine decisions to reject ads is protected by 47 USC 230(c)(2) as a legitimate decision to filter “otherwise objectionable” content.
  • Search engines aren’t state actors and are not bound by the First Amendment, so they do not deprive advertisers (such as Langdon) of First Amendment rights by rejecting their advertising.

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