‘Page 10 of Google is interesting too’

Google possibly removing search results brings new opportunities too. „We need to reinvent the way we use our digital sources. Right now you enter something and you find what you’re looking for, but you don’t realise it’s not all equally relevant. People also need to get used to not immediately finding everything on the first page of Google results. Pages 3 to 10 also have interesting information,” internet expert Danny Mekić says.

by Laurens Scholten, ANP, published in several Dutch newspapers

In the past few days, thousands of people have asked Google to remove information about them from its search results. A politician wants reports of his bad behaviour erased, a paedophile wants to get rid of information about a conviction. They did so after a verdict by the European Court of Justice. It was judged that people have a right to be forgotten. Google can therefore be mandated to omit links to websites containing sensitive information from its search results.

Mekić would have preferred a different solution. „There is a possible compromise: changing the order of the search results. Irrelevant articles would show up further down the page. I think the order of the search results is more detrimental than linking in itself. Page 1 is more detrimental than page 15.”

A few clicks

In that case, everyone can still find the information, but sometimes it’ll take a few clicks. „The internet needs to be searchable. We can’t have a situation where people would not be able to find information, even though something did happen. Moreover, removing information from Google doesn’t erase it from the internet.”

In order to put irrelevant sites further down, like Mekić proposes, Google would need to change its formula. Using that formula, the search engine calculates which sites are more important and should therefore appear at the top. „That means Google influences how we can find information. But they already do, we just don’t know how. If I enter your name, I automatically assume what I find is what’s most relevant.”

Omission requests

For now, Google will need to consider all thousands of omission requests. What Mekić is worried about is: what if Google omits results undeservedly? „Criminals can request having search results removed too, in order to seem better than they are. Politicians might want to keep things away from the media. Sometimes there’s someone who gets their links omitted undeservedly.”

In that case someone would be granted a right they don’t actually have. „As a citizen you won’t find out about that, and you can’t sue Google to force them to publish it anyway. You don’t know what’s been omitted.”

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