For the sake of recurrent narcissism plus the totally defensible reason of remembering whether I’ve written anything noteworthy that should go on my CV, I googled myself on Sunday night. The first page was what I expected – a mix of my work publications, my merry unpaid commentariatocracy, social media and freelance profiles.
Then I got to the bottom of search page #1.
Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe. Learn more
I followed the link and, as suspected, found ‘some results’ had been removed under the May 2014 ruling by the European Court of Justice, the ‘right to be forgotten’. This is kind of odd. I certainly haven’t requested google take down anything I’ve written or been mentioned in.
I cannot think of anything I’ve written which defames anyone or impinges their characters, other than people in high politics who google certainly shouldn’t be wiping. I honestly cannot imagine what I’ve written that deserves being googlewiped. It’s especially odd since I’ve only really been writing 2ish years, and google’s only supposed to remove pages after the information contained within is wholly redundant. So..?
The ECJ’s google ruling caused debate as soon as it was announced, and immediately prompted criticism once google began to comply. Indeed, I had some thoughts of my own about important-seeming stories that were being whitewashed, questionable amnesia decisions, and google’s sheer ability to process a large volume of forget-me requests with such vague direction from the Luxembourg court.
In July, google told Reuters:
Google has so far approved more than half of roughly 90,000 incoming requests, sought additional information in about 15 percent of cases, and rejected around 30 percent of them, according to a source close to the company.
Google, rather cannily, tries to inform websites when it is removing links to them as part of their transparency commitment, with the gleeful side effect that writers like Robert Peston just make more noise about a story, once they see they’re being scrubbed. I received no such missive, so I can only assume the story by me or about me was on a different website. Which isn’t helpful, since I write for a ton of websites. Off the top of my head, I cannot tell which of my many (brilliant) articles, listicles and rants is not showing up.
So I have no conclusion, only a vague befuddlement and a pretty uneasy feeling.