Everything you need to know about SEO, published jointly with Search Engine Land every Thursday.
Telegraph “Forgets” Its Own Stories Documenting Google “Right To Be Forgotten” Removals
Newspaper pulls recent articles intended to "keep alive" other stories that were removed from Google in the EU.
The Daily Telegraph’s recent campaign to document all its stories that have been removed from Google under the EU’s Right To Be Forgotten took an odd turn today when the Telegraph itself mysteriously removed three stories about removals.
Make your head hurt? Me, too — especially when I literally watched one of the stories I was reading disappear, when I went to load it again after reading it only a few minutes before.
The Telegraph’s deputy head of technology Matthew Sparkes announced on Twitter about nine hours ago that “My time today will be spent writing about old stories people have requested be removed from Google under new EU rules #BarbraStreisandEffect,” as you can see below:
The hashtag is a reference to the Barbra Streisand effect, where an attempt to hide something might attract greater attention to it. My assumption is that the Telegraph, like several publications, feels that a way to combat removals it disagrees with is to write about them, forcing the person who obtained the removal to once again go through a Right To Be Forgotten process.
Sparkes wrote two articles following his tweet, about old Telegraph stories that were removed from Google under the Right To Be Forgotten. Those followed a third he wrote about a day ago. But if you try to reach any of them, you get an error on the Telegraph site. The stories are, in order of publication (as best I can tell):
- Google removes Telegraph stories about explosives arrests (a copy of the story can be seen here; it’s about this 2001 story)
- Google removes link to Telegraph story about ‘mindless hooligan’ newspaper executive (which is about this 2001 story)
- The Telegraph stories affected by EU ‘right to be forgotten’
The irony is rich. The stories about Google removals of Telegraph content have been removed by the Telegraph itself. Moreover, if you search at Google for the stories, you’ll find links to them:
However, clicking on any of those links will lead to an error at the Telegraph, which has pulled the stories:
I’ve tweeted to Sparkes, the Telegraph (twice), emailed the Telegraph and called its after-hours PR firm for a comment about what’s going on. So far, no answer. If I hear, I’ll post with more details.
Postscript (August 18, 2014): The Telegraph’s head of technology Matt Warman has tweeted that all the removed stories have been restored now, but with no explanation of why they were dropped in the first place. I’m hoping to talk with Warman, and if I learn more, I’ll update again:
— Matt Warman (@mattwarman) August 18, 2014
Postscript 2: Warman told me this via email about the removals and restoration:
These articles were briefly unpublished while we considered the right to be forgotten issue in these specific cases. Having considered the matter, we have decided to republish.