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Google Has Scrubbed Nearly Half Its 'Right to Be Forgotten' Requests -- Mostly From Facebook

Private requests are likely to be met, but requests from public officials be damned.


Since the European Union ruling last year permitting Europeans to petition Google to remove personal Web content, Google has reviewed more than 1.2 million requests, the search giant reported in a post on Wednesday. It scrubbed 41 percent of them.

And the site with the most URLs affected, by far, is Facebook — a telling but obvious indication that people tend to put most personal information and share news articles on the social media site. Google wiped away 10,220 URLs on Facebook; YouTube and Twitter also ranked in the top 10 sites.

You can see Google’s information on these “right to be forgotten” takedowns here. There’s not much. Google offers a binary breakdown of requests and removals in each European country. And it shares 23 succinct examples, giving some hint of its method in addressing the requests (which can sometimes be more madness for Google than anything else).

Google seems to grant requests from private citizens, yet stand firm on public figures: A German teacher with a “minor crime” from 10 years ago saw an article about it wiped clean; a “high ranking” Hungarian official (ooh!) with a similar case did not. (A more dramatic one: An unnamed Italian man requested Google remove 20 links to “recent articles about his arrest for financial crimes committed in a professional capacity.” Google did not budge.)

Those examples fit with how the search engine has positioned its defense in its ongoing European privacy saga — as a defender of public interest, trumpeting, in the words of Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, the “right to know” over the “right to be forgotten.” More importantly, today’s disclosure is a tiny acknowledgement that Google is cooperating with Europe, where it needs all the evidence of this it can muster.

This article originally appeared on

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