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The right to be forgotten is affecting Facebook, not the freedom of the press

Reuters/Andrea Comas
Eric Schmidt arrives at a panel to discuss the right to be forgotten in Madrid.
By Leo Mirani
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Google has finally released some numbers that provide a glimpse, if no real insight, into how it is processing right to be forgotten (RBTF) requests. This stems from a recent judgment from the European Court of Justice that allows Europeans to ask search engines to stop linking to content that can be shown to be irrelevant, outdated, or inadequate.

Google has now included it in its transparency report, which keeps track of all requests from governments, copyright-holders, law enforcement agencies, and others, for links to be removed.

Google has so far received just under 145,000 requests, for a total of nearly 500,000 unique links to be removed. Of those, Google has processed 408,000 and and rejected well over half of them. Just 42% of the links were removed, with Italy seeing the most rejections (75%).

The top site to which links are being removed is Facebook.

The numbers map pretty well to the proxy Quartz has been using in its reporting on the subject. In the absence of numbers from Google, Quartz relied on figures from, a business that helps people submit RBTF requests to Google., which has submitted over 10,000 links to Google, reports that its users are most keen to forget their past on Facebook, closely followed by Google sites (such as Google+ groups, and Picasa) and YouTube. Directory listings sites, including Yasni, Yatedo, and, also feature prominently on both lists.

Initial fears that the RBTF ruling would lead to the muzzling of the press turned out to be overblown. Google, which some suspected of encouraging these worries, doesn’t list any media sites on its public list. But notes that of the Google links has removed for its customers, only 0.8% were press websites. That is an order of magnitude less than social networks, which accounted for 8.4%.

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