Okay, if this thing wasn’t already getting out of hand (it was), it certainly is now. A Wikipedia link is reportedly being removed from Google search results as a result of Google’s process for complying with the new “right to be forgotten” law in the EU.
Buried in the middle of a lengthy Jimmy Wales profile at The Observer, is this:
On 9 September, he will travel to Madrid as a member of a Google-appointed panel, charged with drawing up guidance for search engines on how to handle requests to remove links to web pages under Europe’s controversial right to be forgotten legislation. It is an issue close to home – Google is understood to be about to remove its first link to a Wikipedia page. “The legislation is completely insane and needs to be fixed,” says Wales.
It’s unclear what exactly the link being removed is about, or who requested its removal. It will be interesting to see if that information comes out, as it could obviously help us get a better understanding of the context.
For now, we’ll just have to consider it part of the larger mess that is the “right to be forgotten,” and know that not even the Internet’s encyclopedia is exempt from having information disappear from search results. This is particularly significant as Wikipedia results are often among the top results for informational queries on Google. The site even powers a great deal of the information that appears in Google’s Knowledge Graph results.
The fact that Wikipedia is a community-edited effort only makes things more complex. It’s supposed to be bias free in the first place, leading one to wonder what grounds would call for an article to be eliminated from search results as opposed to having an informational article edited for the removal of bias.
It is worth noting that Wikipedia has had some problems with undisclosed paid editing.
Google outlined the complexity of enforcing the right to be forgotten in a questionnaire from EU regulators last week. The company also released some dates for when it will consumer presentations from “expert” voices on the EU’s right to be forgotten ruling. These events should help Google shape its policy for URL removal.
Image via Google