How Does the Right to be Forgotten Affect Online Profile Management?

the_right_to_be_forgottenThe recent ruling in European courts over the so-called “right be forgotten” has caused a stir in the SEO and online profile management community. With a single stroke, the right to remove information on Google’s indexes has been created, and this in turn has caused a re-evaluation of whether online profile management using SEO is actually necessary.

To summarise the events of recent weeks, a European judge – in response to a Spanish resident’s request to remove some negative housing information from his online profile – ruled that internet service providers would have to follow any requests made via the law to remove unwanted information. This of course would, at first glance, render the whole concept of online profile management entirely null and void.

However, there are several significant pieces of information about the new ruling which have not been made entirely clear, and which change the meaning of the ruling for SEO and for online profile management.

One point that the ruling judge has tried to make clear is the fact that the only information that can be removed is information that has been put forward by the individual themselves. This means Facebook or other social media sites will be forced to take down unwanted material that has been posted by the complainant themselves. It does not mean that any media articles will be affected.

This makes online profile management as important as ever, then. As many will understand, online profile management often deals with negative press articles, with the aim being to make more positive content rise in search engine rankings. If anyone could simply remove the information, this would render online profile management unnecessary; however, media and artistic outlets will still have their information indexed.

Another important point is that search engines will merely stop indexing negative content – but the actual content will still remain on the internet for those seeking it. From an SEO perspective, this makes little different, but from a personal perspective this negative information will never truly go away. Of course, our advice is to try and keep negative output on the internet to a minimum, but that isn’t always possible. Having someone monitor your online profile means that references to this now missing information can be removed through positive SEO promotion.

Additionally, the ruling has been deemed by many to be an infringement of the right to free speech. By demanding that negative content be erased, anyone could theoretically hide details about themselves that the public has a right to know, such as a criminal record for example. Some may also remember the recent US push for the SOPA bill to be passed. SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, sought to control the information available on the Internet in a similar manner to the European ruling. This resulted in a massive backlash from many individuals and organisations, and the act was successfully overturned.

It is clear that after some examination, this ruling will change the online sphere and the way we view information put online; however, in terms of SEO and online profile management, it is still necessary to work at getting search engines to index the content you want seen.