Article Quoting Norwegian Mass Murderer Anders Breivik's Manifesto Gets Caught In Right-To-Be-Forgotten Memory Hole

from the obscuring-history dept

As we’ve been covering the big push in Europe to use the “right to be forgotten” concept to delete parts of history, each time media outlets have articles removed, it’s only acting as an opportunity to bring those articles some renewed attention.

And, indeed, the Telegraph in the UK has now released a big list of articles that will lose some Google juice in Europe thanks to right-to-be-forgotten requests. The one getting the most attention is actually just an excerpt from the manifesto of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.

To understand what’s happening, you have to remember that the entire article doesn’t disappear from the Google index, it’s just that it won’t show up if you search on a specific name. And since the RTBF is not supposed to apply to public personalities, chances are it’s not Breivik who is the issue here. In fact, the quoted part of the manifesto includes Breivik talking about his godmother, a political refugee from Chile, and a few other foreign friends he had as a kid, as part of his proof that he’s “not a racist.” Most of his childhood friends only have their first names listed, but the godmother is named in full — and you might understand why she’s not exactly happy to be connected to a sociopathic mass murderer whenever someone Googles her name.

But… is that really a legitimate reason to remove the search result? It still seems immensely troubling that the end result of this is to remove accurate responses to research queries. Yes, it may be embarrassing, depressing and even emotionally stressful to see such Google results — but it’s also accurate. Shouldn’t we be more focused on dealing with the issues of why it’s so problematic to have your name associated in this manner instead of trying to pretend it never happened at all?

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Comments on “Article Quoting Norwegian Mass Murderer Anders Breivik's Manifesto Gets Caught In Right-To-Be-Forgotten Memory Hole”

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Whoever says:

Interviewees Remorse?

I cannot understand why one of the articles has been removed:
The subjects of the article must have agreed to be interviewed, have their photographs taken, etc.. Why should they be able to have this removed from search results? The article is only 5 years old, the family must have been aware that they would be putting themselves permanently in Google search results.

There doesn’t seem to be anything in the comments that would warrant removal, so I am assuming it is the main article, and one or more of “Paul and Fiona Godwin-Brown and their two boys Tom and Charlie” who requested removal.

It might also have been “Duncan Clerkin”, who was also quoted. Or perhaps “Yolande Barnes, head of research at Savills” (all names gratuitously included to provide more links to them).

Anonymous Coward says:

To answer your question “But… is that really a legitimate reason to remove the search result?“: Yes, this is a legitimate reason.

And before you now cry out loud “Censorship! Free Speech! …!” please take the time and tell me what the added value of her name is. Ok, the name is in the quoted part of the manifesto. And for exactly what reason? Why is the name important? I’m sure there are plenty of reasons I just cannot image (stupid European), right? Sorry but I think this is perhaps the fault of the removed article (even if it’s free speech – this doesn’t make things magically right). And this example looks just like another bad pick.

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