Following the European Court of Justice's 'right to be forgotten' ruling, I was wondering how those opposed to internet censorship would respond.
It didn't take long for Google to be deluged with thousands of 'take down' requests with people wanting to take advantage of a judgement the search giant described as "disappointing".
Somewhat unsurprisingly, after initially seeming to comply to the ruling, Google soon reversed their decision and began reinstating removed links.
Meanwhile, there is a growing sense of disquiet about the ruling as it stands, with UK Justice Minister Simon Hughes speculating that the law may well be unenforceable.
When I first learnt of the new European-wide law, my first thought was that anyone who requested a link be removed would be running the risk of the unintended consequences of drawing more publicity to old news, much like the Streisand effect.
A product of the 'effect' is Hidden From Google, a website which provides "a list of search results omitted, erased, or censored due to the 'Right to be forgotten.'"
A few words of advice to people who may be tempted to contact Google to remove a link to a negative news story about them:
1. Think very carefully about the nature of the story. Do you really need the link removed?
2. Understand that sites like Hidden From Google and others will zero in on you. Is the pain of being scrutinized in the age of social media worth it?
3. Address the story head on with an explanation or comment your own website (use Tumblr, Weebly or my own Newlaunch.net to create a free webstie which you could populate with neutral or positive content (along with content uploaded to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) to reflect the person you are now.
4. "Take the beating". There are tens of millions of pieces of information created and disseminated on social networks every hour. No matter how embarrassing a story may be to you, the moment will pass.
Of course, this specifically applies to negative (but true) stories. There are mechanisms in place to deal with libel and malicious falsehoods for which you should consult a lawyer.
People who believe the internet should be a censorship-free zone are not going to give up the fight to beat into submission the bureaucrats trying to control the web.
Stand by for further 'acts of retaliation'.
Here's a take on the European Court of Justice ruling on the 'right to be forgotten'
by Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray.
It highlights the 'muddle headed' nature of the decision, which only applies to Europe
and not to the United States and other parts of the world.
The UK's Information Commissioner has given Google and other 'data controllers' time
to develop a mechanism for dealing with 'delete requests', but in my humble opinion,
the practicality of policing a potentially huge volume of demands will lead to a significant
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.