What will be the impact of forcing removal of search results?
In the May 15 issue of Crisis Manager, Bernstein Crisis Management social media manager Erik Bernstein discussed the EU ruling that was to force Google to remove certain links from search results. This subject was the topic of some serious conversation among us here, and we most definitely see both edges of the sword.
For those doing crisis management and reputation management overseas, this ruling could come as a boon. After all, having negative search results popping up is an incredibly common problem in today’s ‘net-centric world, and a clear process for removing those that are overly harmful or untrue would be a great help. It will also likely assist individuals who are saddled with old baggage for which they’ve long paid their dues, allowing contributing members of society to get on with their lives.
At the same time, many negative search results are there for a reason. The con side of the argument was summed up well by The Economist:
“The right to be forgotten would also undermine the internet’s great strength…search engines should be like library catalogues–comprehensive and neutral, and without fear or favour of what the contents may reveal, or how they may be used.”
Could the less-than-ethical crowd will learn to game the system, allowing them to escape justice in the court of public opinion and continuing to take advantage of victims who have no way to uncover their history? This is certainly a question many will want answered before they put much faith in the system.
Google hasn’t dallied in complying with the court, however unhappily it may be, and the removal request form is online already.
In a conversation discussing whether such a ruling would fly here in the States, Agincourt Strategies’ Gerald Baron offered up an opinion we’re inclined to agree with:
I think the values of the Internet crowd are such that any attempt to erase would be seen as a backward move. I suspect it would be fought to the nth degree. Seems transparency and full disclosure are more primary than the unfortunate reputation impacts.
Of course, the potential for one landmark case to change the landscape of public and judicial opinion is certainly there. We can guarantee everyone in the crisis management field will be watching to see where this decision takes us.
The BCM Blogging Team