Asterisk Revisited: Debating a Right of Reply on Search Results

Frank Pasquale, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Document Type Article


What happens when high-ranking results about a certain searched term are harmful from either a societal perspective, or from the perspective of an entity with a stake in the search term? For example, if all the results about a (hypothetical) person named Xavier Hollidayly are negative opinions or mistaken accusations, should he get any chance to reply to them on the search page on which they appear - or at least to indicate with an asterisk a link that leads to a page that will do so? Or if the owner of the (again fictitious) trademark Flanakapan Popsicles finds that all the results in response to that term lead to competitors' websites, should she be able to indicate on that page that she owns the mark Flanakapan?

This essay proposes some solutions to these problems, and responds to critiques