Google Approves 41.6% of Right to Be Forgotten Requests

Home » Unpublishing»

(iMediaEthics photo illustration, photo by Martin Robinson via Wikipedia)

Google is getting about 1,000 requests a day to take down links to news stories under the “Right to be Forgotten,” the International Business Times reported.

The Right to Be Forgotten stems from a May 2014 ruling from the EU Court of Justice that allows people in the European Union to have search engines take down links to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” stories or posts about them.

The numbers about how many people are requesting take downs was revealed in Google’s Transparency Report. There have been 148,819 removal requests from 502,590 URLs, Google says.

The transparency report was published this month. According to the report, Google said it removed 41.6% of the links requested starting May 29.

Google provided this chart showing how many requests it approves

France, Germany and the UK were the three biggest requesters of take down material. And Facebook had the most URLs taken down.

Google also listed some “examples of requests we encounter” and how it reviewed its decision of the person’s request against public interest. Google said, at the request of an Italian woman, it took down a link to a “decades-old article about her husband’s murder, which included her name.”

Google’s FAQ page for removing links under the “Right to Be Forgotten” says that requests are handled on a “case-by-case basis.”  Google added that it tells sites “in the interest of transparency” when it agrees to take down a link from search results but doesn’t tell them who asked for the take down.

Google told Mashable that “each request is reviewed individually by a human, not an algorithm.”

Interestingly, the IB Times reported that some of the Google requests were made because of commenters, pointing to an article from the BBC..

The BBCs economics editor Robert Preston wrote July 2 that Google told the BBC it took down a link to one of his 2007 blogposts about Merrill Lynch, seemingly because a commenter on the story complained.

Preston said that Google “won’t tell me, one way or another” about who requested the take down but he found that searching the only person named in his column, Stan O’Neal, he could still find his article. Therefore, O’Neal wasn’t the person who requested the take down. Instead, Preston found that when he searched one of the names of the commenters on his story, his story didn’t show, making it likely the commenter requested the take down.

Preston raised an important point about whether it was OK for commenters to get story links hidden from Google search results:

“Unless, that is, you believe that when someone makes a public comment on a media website, that is something that is voluntarily done and should not be stricken from the record – except when what is at stake is a matter of life and death.”

As iMediaEthics has written, the Right to Be Forgotten poses other issues as media outlets are often reporting on the very stories that people are asking to have removed. The UK Telegraph has a running list of articles that Google has removed links from search results.

And, after several news outlets reported on a man’s successful request to have a 2006 Daily article about him shoplifting, the man complained to the UK Press Complaints Commission (the print regulator that has since been replaced by IPSO), but the PCC ruled that it was OK for the media to re-report old news the man was trying to bury.

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Google Approves 41.6% of Right to Be Forgotten Requests

Share this article:

Comments Terms and Conditions

  • We reserve the right to edit/delete comments which harass, libel, use coarse language and profanity.
  • We moderate comments especially when there is conflict or negativity among commenters.
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *