As Commanded by EU, News Stories Start Disappearing from Google Searches


People are so petty, wanting to know about some guy's seven corruption convictions or whatever.
Credit: Piotr VaGla Waglowsk

The Google purge has begun in Europe. After Europe's top court ruled that people have the "right to be forgotten" and have information that embarrasses them (with no regard for factual accuracy) removed from searches, The Guardian reported that six of their stories are no longer easily findable from people living in Europe:

The first six articles down the memory hole – there will likely be many more as the rich and powerful look to scrub up their online images, doubtless with the help of a new wave of "reputation management" firms – are a strange bunch.

Three of the articles, dating from 2010, relate to a now-retired Scottish Premier League referee, Dougie McDonald, who was found to have lied about his reasons for granting a penalty in a Celtic v Dundee United match, the backlash to which prompted his resignation.

I find that to be such a hilariously appropriately European thing to be the first censored searches. The only thing that would have been more European would have been Italy's Silvio Berlusconi trying to make Google forget him:

The other disappeared articles – the Guardian isn't given any reason for the deletions – are a 2011 piece on French office workers making post-it art, a 2002 piece about a solicitor facing a fraud trial standing for a seat on the Law Society's ruling body and an index of an entire week of pieces by Guardian media commentator Roy Greenslade.

That last link includes an image of Berlusconi with a creepy grin on his face, so maybe I spoke too soon. BBC has had a blog post about a former CEO of Merrill Lynch pushed off searches. The media outlets are not told why they're being rendered unfindable from Google, nor is there an appeal process. These stories can be found by going through other versions of Google search pages not tied to countries (Google cleverly offers this choice from the UK Google page), but it might not occur to users to look for additional links that aren't there due to government censorship.

Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum wrote about the awfulness of this ruling back in May. My suggestion to media outlets incensed by this behavior: Repost these stories with a new, slightly changed headline on a new page (and therefore a new URL). Google will pick it back up and it will go right back into the search engine.