A new website has been set up to list the search results “omitted, erased, or censured” from Google’s European sites because of the EU’s recent “right to be forgotten” ruling.
At the time of writing, Hidden From Google currently lists 11 articles that no longer appear in response to certain search terms, with a news article confirming the link’s removal used to verify each case.
Afaq Tariq, the site’s American creator, has said he doesn’t know whether or not the EU’s ruling is right or but thinks that the decision to remove links online should not rest with Google alone – an argument the US internet giant agrees with.
"The concept of Hidden From Google seemed to be something that was missing from the internet," Mr Tariq told Motherboard.
"Whether I agree with the concept or not, it is a perfectly legitimate way to archive the actions of this societal decision so an open discussion can take place on its impact. I built it with the notion of it empowering a fairly equipped debate."
However, critics have pointed out that an attempt to highlight deleted Google links can raise its own ethical questions – especially as Google does not explain why a link has been removed.
A blog post on the BBC by Robert Peston was one of the most notorious early examples, with the article covering the exploits of former Merrill Lynch chairman Stan O’Neal - a powerful financier involved in the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
After the blog’s removal Mr Peston wrote a piece asking “Why has Google killed this example of my journalism?” with many people understanding from the incident that the rich and powerful were using the EU’s ruling to airbrush their reputation.
It was later clarified that the blog was requested for removal from certain search terms by a former Merrill Lynch employee who had commented underneath it about his time with the company – and not at the request of Mr O’Neal.
Will Gore, the Deputy Managing Editor of The Independent and former Director at the Press Complaints Commission, has said on the issue: “Ultimately, we do not know why the material in question has caused such anxiety [and] Google’s handling of the requests it receives is so opaque, we are left in the dark about the specifics of each case.
“The result is that by promoting our de-listed material, we could unintentionally cause further distress to an individual for whom we would actually have sympathy.”
Mr Tariq agrees with this assesment and has said: "If enough people voice their opinion and say that this site causes more harm than good, I would be the first to consider its removal."Reuse content