As Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is accused of manipulating the news feed on its social media platform comes word that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is removing a journalist’s blog post critical of a big bank executive.
BBC journalist Robert Peston has felt firsthand the impact of new rules in the EU that were designed to make people anonymous. The rules, we are now discovering, could also be used to make making bad actors and their questionable decisions anonymous.
Google removal requests to BBC’s Peston
In 2007 Peston penned an article on the BBC website titled “Merrill’s Mess,” a piece that explains how Merrill Lynch chief Stan O’Neal was pushed out of the investment bank after enduring significant losses on the back of what were called careless investments.
This morning Peston received a surprise. A “notice of removal” from Google told him his article, “Merrill’s Mess,” would no longer be shown in European Google search results.
The issue reverts back to an issue previously reported in ValueWalk on several occasions. In May, when the European Court of Justice ordered that anyone could apply to have search results relating to them deleted from Google under the new “right to be forgotten” rule, it mandated that Google delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from its results when a member of the public requests it.
Evidently Peston’s BBC blog post critical of a big bank executive was deemed “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.”
“Most people would argue that it is highly relevant for the track record, good or bad, of a business leader to remain on the public record – especially someone widely seen as having played an important role in the worst financial crisis in living memory (Merrill went to the brink of collapse the following year, and was rescued by Bank of America),” Peston writes on a BBC blog. “So there is an argument that in removing the blog, Google is confirming the fears of many in the industry that the “right to be forgotten” will be abused to curb freedom of expression and to suppress legitimate journalism that is in the public interest.”
Google requests for removal of articles
Peston wonders if he is “a victim of teething problems. It is only a few days since the ruling has been implemented – and Google tells me that since then it has received a staggering 50,000 requests for articles to be removed from European searches.”
This is odd that among its first actions is to protect a big bank chieftain, which led Peston to check if there is an appeal process instead of casting his article “into the oblivion of unsearchable internet data.”
“Google is getting back to me,” he writes.
Also see: The check is in the mail.