After what we think was about a week of being de-indexed, the controversial Ripoff Report website is showing up again in search results on Yahoo’s Australian website.
But a company spokesperson tells us that some URLs are still blocked.
Late Wednesday night (May 21), we noticed that a site:ripoffreport.com search on Yahoo7 — the Australian version of Yahoo — was once again showing URLs. That was a week after we first reported that the entire domain had been dropped due to defamation complaints. A Yahoo7 spokesperson confirmed then that the site had been removed after “significant complaints in regards to defamatory content” while the company reviewed its legal options.
The same spokesperson gave us this statement about Ripoff Report’s return to search results:
We said that we were reviewing the site due to complaints received, and this process occurred. There are still some links for which measures to stop ripoffreport results appearing in Yahoo7 Search remain, but most of the site is now unblocked.
In short, some URLs are still not showing up but “most of the site” is.
Yahoo7 declined to tell us how many or what percentage of the site’s URLs are still blocked. At the bottom of the site:ripoffreport.com, I see an indicator that says “164,000 results” — but I have no idea how that compares to the number of results before the site was removed. (Yahoo7 gets its search results from Google. A site:ripoffreport.com on Google.com shows about 7.7 million results. But that’s an unreliable number by itself, and it’s quite possible that Yahoo7′s index was much smaller to begin with.)
Australia doesn’t have laws that protect online publishers from being held liable for content published by others, as the Communications Decency Act does in the U.S. So, as I wrote last week, Yahoo7 could potentially be held liable if it shows defamatory content in its search results from Ripoff Report (or any other website).
After doing its own legal review, Yahoo7 appears to have decided that some Ripoff Report URLs are defamatory and need to be kept out of its search results — but not the entire site.