When it comes to things like your personal information or non-consensual images, it's easy to erase your online footprint with the help of the internet giant. It really has.

A lot of people are interested in this. Respondents from Canada, Australia, and the U.K. want things like financial information or details about their dating and sexual habits removed from the internet.

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The results would be the same if the company asked people in the US or Germany. People who say they have nothing to hide have something they want to hide.

It doesn't do what you want it to do. This kind of policy doesn't remove anything except hits on a search engine, even in places like the EU where it's required by law. You can't do much about it since it's still there.


How it all works — the web spider

A big hairy spider

(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

The term web spider may have been used before. The concept behind it is pretty simple if you don't know what it means. There are programs on the web that crawl the web to find content. The term spider has nothing to do with our animals.

When a spider finds something, it puts it in a data center, where it can be accessed. You would like football scores. Spiders find the results when they are posted to the web by a media outlet. When you grab your phone, you'll get the results on a search page.

Not that kind of spider.

Publishers can opt out of having spiders index their content if they so choose, but this is the general idea behind it all, and it's fine for a basic understanding.

Any content that isn't hosted on their platform can't be controlled by any of them. We aren't going to wade into the cesspool of Section 230 arguments here.

When it comes to making things easier, the only thing that can be done is what it has control over. A show can be removed from the platform. An app can be deleted from the play store. A search result can be deleted by the internet search engine.

The actual content can't be deleted by the search engine.

Nothing is actually forgotten

How To Remove Search Results Ss

(Image credit: Adam Doud/Android Central)

When you petition the company using your right to be forgotten, the link to the content you want to be removed that appears in a search will be removed.

Unless you're a public figure or something like that, you don't need to fill out a form if you just visit the page and fill out the form.

It can be hard to remove content.

There are plenty of things about you that nobody has the right to know of unless you explicitly shared them.

It shouldn't be hard. Unless you post them yourself, nobody has the right to see them. You have no right to tell them about your health unless you do it yourself. Unless you want to make your sexual preferences public, nobody has the right to know about it.

Nobody has the right to know anything bad about children under the age of 18.

If the people running the website don't want to do it, the courts can take it away. I like the idea of websites sharing private information about people who don't want it to be shared.

I have no power around my office. In either case, the information would be removed and personal information that a court finds libelous would be removed.

It's better than the alternative

Don't be evil, Google

(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

I don't want any company to have the ability to remove stuff from the internet. The only power that any company in the business of search should have is that of the status quo. Even though it would love to have that power, I don't think it would ever happen.

I think it's important for everyone to know that the right to be forgotten doesn't mean anything. The internet doesn't forget.