Google Forget and the Streisand Effect

Various outlets noticed yesterday that links had been removed from certain search queries. Many received automated emails from Google yesterday morning, which notified them that their articles had been removed from search results. An economics editor at the BBC wrote that he also received the same notification for a piece he wrote seven years ago.

The problem is that many outlets went published stories about the “forgotten” articles. Consistent with the Streisand Effect, this only made everyone remember them even more. If you didn’t know about the stories that were deleted by Google before, you do now. This is yet another example of the Streisand effect: when you go to too much effort to detract attention from something, it usually leads to greater scrutiny and awareness.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss yet another occurrence of the Streisand Effect.




Ian: The Streisand Effect of Google Forget!!

Andrew: …What?

Ian: I’m thinking of the wrong thing we were talking about today… Where’s Barbra?!

Andrew: Oh, there she is! Oh..

Ian: Oh my gosh.

Andrew: We were just having a private moment

Ian: Having a little love song?

Andrew: We were, she was just singing Evergreen to me.

Ian: Evergreen… shows how much I know about Barbra’s music, sorry Barbra.

Andrew: Or was it Memories? No it wasn’t.

Ian: Did she do Memories? Was that her? Like the corner’s of my mind.

Andrew: Yeah, she wrote it, A Star Is Born, 1976.

Ian: Did she? Did she write that song?

Andrew: She did.

Ian: I’ve got a new respect for Barbra.

Andrew: Oh my god.

Ian: That’s one of the classics, that’s a classic song.

Andrew: ??? your own gun… you don’t know that?!

Ian: I thought that was from Cats but anyway. Did they use it?

Andrew: That’s a different song!

Ian: Yeah I was going to say Andrew…

Andrew: The lyrics you just said were from Evergreen. Memories like the corner of my mind

Ian: Ohhh that’s from Evergreen.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ian: We really have forgotten what this hangout’s about.

Andrew: It’s becoming as bad as this coffee.

Ian: The Streisand effect of Google Forget. Once again classic example, trying to put some rules in place when you’re dealing with the internet, when you’re dealing with masses of people using the online world for various different motives. This is a great case once again when Google has been forced by the Google Forget rules in Europe to take down certain posts in order to manage people’s reputation. So, all they’re required to do just in case you’re not in the loop here, all they’re required to do is take those links out of the index so they don’t come up in search, they don’t take the webpage down, the website or webpage is still there.

Andrew: Well they’ve got no right to do that, it’s not their property.

Ian: That’s it. So quite a few people who have asked for various links to be taken down have then announced that they’ve been taken down. They’ve said ‘Google has so kindly taken down the links of these articles that I wrote 7 or 8 years ago that we’re defamatory and probably made comments that they regret. I won’t go into all of the details, there’s some Merrill Lynch examples, so we’re talking about big financial stakes in this situation. ‘Oh thank you very much Google for taking the links down.’ And then bang! Journalists start writing about the links that have been taken down, they start putting it on people’s blog, they start putting out stories about it and what they do is, they provide the link to the page and say ‘it’s been deindexed by Google.’ So there’s now all these additional links out there.

Andrew: Clarification, it hasn’t been deindexed by Google, if it was deindexed it wouldn’t show up. The only thing that Google can do is take down the search result from the actual results page, that’s all they can do.

Ian: Yes ok fair enough.

Andrew: They can’t deindex the actual website or the webpage, that’s still there it’s not their property, they don’t have to go that far.

Ian: Well where’s the differentiation between them. If it doesn’t show up in search at all

Andrew:… Then no one is going to know about it.

Ian: Right but is that in the index then?

Andrew: It will still be in the index.

Ian: It will still be in the index, it’s just that it’s blocked from showing up.

Andrew: It’s invisible.

Ian: Well that’s a bit of a hangout on its own that one. But anyway, the point is they’ve tried to have some things taken down online, when you’ve got the email you should nod your head and say great, that’s excellent that’s something I didn’t want to have up on the internet and you’ll sleep better that night, don’t go and make an announcement about it.

Andrew: See, I think this is great for individuals who may have done something stupid many, many years ago and it’s still online, that’s fine. But when you’re talking about public figures, people who are in the news, who are big news a while ago and do this, it will come back and bite them in the you know what.

Ian: Like Barbra! Yes… please explain.

Andrew: If it was something that I wanted taken down Google will get it out of the search results but nobody cares, I’m nobody in the scheme of things but these people like Barbra who this whole thing is named after and they’re all lynch people and all these others of course, it’s newsworthy, they’re known celebrities.

Ian: Well that’s it and there’s hoards of people with nothing better to do then wait and are being paid to populate the internet  and magazines with these stories.

Andrew: Yeah, as that article says at the end, where is it all going to stop, do you as an individual have to reapply to Google and say I want this new post about me taken down because it talks about the old article. Then another one will go up and it’s just a perpetuating cycle that will never stop.

Ian: Yeah, well that’s the thing. There are so many people using the online space that you just can’t control the masses it’s very, very difficult. This is a very interesting area to see what kind of regulation is rolled out and how it’s policed. As it mentioned in this article by Victoria Turk, Victoria thanks for that! The Streisand effect of Google Forget is actually the name of your article, this basically says well what’s next, do we now ask Google to remove the links in the articles that have been written about the articles being taken down, where does the line end? And is it reasonable to ask Google to take those down, I don’t think that the law currently covers that, the law only says that they have to be not visible in the search. So it’s a little bit like the SEO cat and mouse thing with Google only that this is actually in the physical courts, who is going to lead who as far as what is going to be the right and fair legislation.

Andrew: It’s a catch 22.

Ian: Barbra, you had no idea all those years ago when your house was in the background of someones photo.

Andrew: What you started.

Ian: What you started. The sensation that the Streisand effect is.

Andrew: Well I guess it’s another phase of her career, she’s had her singing, acting and then comeback shows and now the Streisand effect!

Ian: She’s had a lasting effect on all of us.

Andrew: She has.

Ian: We need to find out when her birthday is, because we said she was 73, do we know when her birthday is?

Andrew: No I’m not that stalkerish. No I don’t.

Ian: We have to find out because we can have a Streisand effect party each time she has another birthday.

Andrew: That’s a good idea. That’s if we’re around that long.

Ian: Maybe people won’t know about her birthday but because we’re doing the Streisand effect party, lot’s of people will know!

Andrew: That’s a point. Let’s create our own Streisand effect issue.

Ian: That’s right! Thanks guys! For more on the Streisand effect you can just keep clicking through the playlist. What are these drinks?

Andrew: Yes. Well, it’s three layered, if you have a look it’s red, green and yellow! Is that someone’s flag colours? I don’t know, Italy?

Ian: Could be yeah and Gana, going to go through the knowledge of our world flags. Oh whoops, I’ve spilt it there you go!

Andrew: Oh goodness!

Ian: There you go.

Andrew: All over the article.

Ian: All over the article, alright guys, speak to you very soon, we’ll put the recipes up for the drinks just don’t try this at home and don’t sue us. Great!

Andrew: It’s very slippery.

Ian: Yes, see you soon, bye!

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