Google removes hundreds of thousands of Web links in Europe

Google removes hundreds of thousands of Web links in Europe
© Google

Google has removed a little more than 441,000 webpages from its search results in Europe since a court ruled last year that citizens have a “right to be forgotten” online, a new update says. 

The search giant has evaluated 1.2 million webpages for removal, but has chosen to leave untouched 58 percent of those pages.  

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Public officials, priests, business people and media professionals have all been among the people whose requests to remove either embarrassing or criminal information were rejected.

The numbers come from Google’s transparency report that was last updated on Wednesday. Ten individual sites account for about 9 percent of all removals. Links to Facebook are most often removed from search, while other popular sites like YouTube, Twitter and other Google sites are among the top. 

The site with the second most delisted pages is profileengine.com, which bills itself as a social network search engine that makes it easier to find online information about others. 

Since last year, Europeans have been able to petition search engines like Google or Yahoo to remove links about them when the page contains inaccurate, irrelevant or excessive information about people. 

Wiping the link from search engines does not remove the actual Web page from the Internet, and Google currently only extends that kind of scrubbing to Europe-specific domains, but not the standard Google.com that is used in the United States. 

In its transparency report, Google highlights 23 examples of cases in which it either delisted the content or refused to do so.

One media professional in the United Kingdom was rejected after he asked that Google delist embarrassing information he posted. A public official in Hungary was denied when he asked to remove articles about his decades-old criminal conviction. 

Google also rejected a French priest who requested that news articles about his conviction for owning images that depicted child sexual abuse. Another clergyman in the U.K. was rejected when he asked to delist articles about an investigation into his alleged sexual abuse.