Thursday, July 3, 2014

Online information disappearing with involuntary assist from Google

Information posted online can disappear for a host of reasons. News organizations often move or delete articles, creating dead links. Other times the business or organization doing the posting closes and their websites go away.
In Europe, a recent high court ruling is forcing Google to remove search results for people who are embarrassed by them. The decision created a legal precedent for the “right to be forgotten.”
While the intent of the ruling seems noble, it created a mess of problems.
For starters, the definition of what can be ordered taken down is broad. The information only need embarrass a person, even if it’s factually correct.
Also, news organizations have no official recourse to appeal take-down notices on Google.
Plus, only the search results are scrubbed, not the actual stories. So, web surfers in countries outside of Europe (such as the U.S.) can find the articles in question using their country’s version of Google.
The whole exercise seems idiotic. Let’s hope this concept doesn’t spread to the U.S.
The Guardian predicts the rise of “reputation management” firms who will clean search results for their clients.
Media organizations are calling the actions a form of censorship.

Related articles: 

Google reverses decision to delete British newspaper links (Reuters; July 3, 2014)

The EU’s “right to be forgotten” is a bad idea, and Google is handling it exactly the right way (GigaOm; July 3, 2014)

As Commanded by EU, News Stories Start Disappearing from Google Searches (Reason; July 3, 2014)

EU’s right to be forgotten: Guardian articles have been hidden by Google (The Guardian; July 2, 2014)

Google deletes search results about millionaire banker blamed for causing financial crisis and referee who lied as ‘right to be forgotten’ kicks in on European searches (The Daily Mail; July 2, 2014)

Thanks To “Right To Be Forgotten,” Google Now Censors The Press In The EU (Marketing Land; July 2, 2014)

Why Google Is Yanking Negative Coverage Of Powerful People From Its Search Results (The Huffington Post; July 2, 2014)

Google Alerts Press About Right To Be Forgotten Removals, Putting Those Stories Back In The News (Techdirt; July 2, 2014)

Photo: Google logo in Building 43 by Robert Scoble

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