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.

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  1. You know what other European made things disappear?

    1. HG Wells?

    2. Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin?

    3. Harry Potter?

    4. The makers of ShamWow?

    5. Hitler! Stalin?

  2. I finally get why lefties have such a Euro fetish.

    1. It’s a bizarrely technocratic society with men in robes making random decisions about millions of people’s lives.

      I philosophy of enslavement.

      1. Robert Reich’s wet dream.

  3. The Flag story seems to have been NSA’ed.

  4. Maybe if you don’t want to be immortalized on the internet you shouldn’t do stupid crap or announce everything you do online.

    If you google my name all that comes up is a few work related things and some stuff I did in high school that very oddly turned up on someone’s website about Francis Bacon (the philosopher one).

    1. If that’s a huge, slightly cranky website about Francis Bacon (“Who Really Was Shakespeare!!!”) that’s been around for years, I know the guy who put it up.

      1. Is it this?

        That guy (and a few others, it looks like) cited an older page which has been around for a long time. I wonder if they realize that it was a homework assignment for a high school philosophy class.

          1. That’s the one.

    2. My name produces a tone of letters to the editor that I was getting published from the Washington Post to the LA Times about six to ten years ago. I was less libertarian back then, but other than that, they can do me no harm.

      1. tone

        add another n or drop the e.

  5. They may have a right to be forgotten, but don’t I have a right to remember?

    Ah, fuck it, it’s Europe. Whatever.

  6. Website idea: censoredfromsearches.com, a searchable database with links to everything censored from Google.

    1. Or just a competing search engine that doesn’t have offices in Europe.

      Can’t find it on Google because they’re too busy ‘not being evil’? Come to us.

    2. Great minds think alike, PapayaSF. Of course the Eurolords will just demand that access to the database of censored searches be blocked, but at least that will make their nature a little clearer.

      1. But if they don’t have offices in Europe, the EU can’t do anything, right?

        1. Not to the corporation, no. But they might be able to put out warrants on individual corporate officers and have them arrested if they ever set foot in EU territory. Don’t know if the US would extradite.

          1. US won’t extradite for anything that would violate someone’s rights. For instance, if you publish an anti-Islamic article, you can’t be extradited to Pakistan for blasphemy.

            I’m pretty sure that the “‘right’ to be forgotten” has come up in US courts, and been struck down for violating the 1st Amendment, so no one can extradite you as a US citizen for it.

    3. There’s gotta be a workaround that actually makes the censored stories more visible.

      Another approach would be to get all the favorable tongue-bath stories for Eurocrats censored.

  7. “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” repeated Winston obediently.

  8. What amuses me is that I know people that point to Europe as the answer for our issues: guns/medical/vacation and yet they are willing to censor beacause of hurt feelings.

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