As you see above, a site:ripoffreport.com on Yahoo7 produces no results. A Yahoo7 spokesperson gave us this statement on the decision to de-index that entire domain:
Yahoo7 has received significant complaints in regards to defamatory content in our search results which have been generated from links on the website ripoffreport.com. Under Australian law Yahoo7 has an obligation to remove defamatory content from our search results, when notified of it. Given the volume of complaints received in respect of the ripoffreport.com website, Yahoo7 has put in place measures to stop ripoffreport results appearing in Yahoo7 Search while we review our legal position.
I’m not a lawyer, but I believe the legal issue that Yahoo7 mentions is that Australia doesn’t have laws that protect online publishers from liability for content posted by others (the way the Communications Decency Act in the U.S. protects online publishers). In other words, Yahoo7 could be found liable of defamation if it shows content from other sites in its search results and that content is found to be defamatory.
Because its legal team is still reviewing the situation, Yahoo7 wouldn’t tell us how many defamation complaints it received. We also asked if the ongoing review means that the de-indexing may not be permanent, and if Ripoff Report has any recourse to object to or challenge Yahoo7′s decision. The company declined to answer those questions for the same reason.
We do know that at least some of those complaints have come from the people behind a website called Ripoff Report Victims Unite. Michael Roberts, the group’s founder, posted a video on YouTube taking responsibility for Yahoo7′s decision. He also shared this statement with us:
Yahoo’s response to our request to de-index Ripoffreport.com from Australian search results is very encouraging. In most countries, Yahoo! does not have the immunity conveyed to it in the USA through Section 230C of the Communications Decency Act, for that matter, neither does Google. We hope that little-by-little, our boycott’s efficacy will work its way around the world until Ripoffreport’s owner, Ed Magedson, has been permanently muted, and the emotional anguish he causes removed from so many good people.
We reached out Tuesday morning to Ripoff Report founder Ed Magedson for reaction to Yahoo7′s decision to de-index his website, but have not had a reply yet. We’ll update this article if and when we get one.