Google forgets names in the “Right To Be Forgotten”

In my first post about this issue back in July 2014, I analyzed the names of the members of the European Parliament. The idea was simple: The Parliament consists of a cross-section of people throughout Europe, and in most cases the members represent typical European names.

Google stated that they planned to show the removal notice for every name in the European Union. This seemed to be a fair idea so that nobody would be under false suspicion.

In July we did a search regarding the removal notice for all 692 members of the European Parliament. In July, around 20% of those names turned up the removal notice when we searched for these names. Various sample names were stated in my first post.

Here is a screenshot of the search feature within those search results pages from July:
Right to be forgotten july
As you can see, 153 of the 692 names had this removal statement in the search results. Recently, I performed once again the analysis with Forecheck:
Right to be forgotten Oct
The result: Only 34 of these search results pages show the removal statement. This tells us that either the name algorithm that Google wants to implement doesn’t fully work, or Google has manually removed the statement. Or did we just choose the wrong names? We also checked other names again such as those of my colleagues, as well as examples from my blog post in July: The removal statement is now shown more rarely than in the past.

For a normal Google search user today, it looks more as if the removal statement is only shown for names that really submitted a request for deletion from the results. This could possibly lead to discrimination or problems for employees during application processes as well as other cases that have been discussed in the press. It is time that Google explains itself and why their name algorithm fails.

About Thomas Kaiser

Thomas Kaiser, founder and CEO of Forecheck LLC and cyberpromote GmbH, launched his first company at 23. He developed the first MPEG-2 video coder for Windows at the Technical University of Munich. In 1997 he invented “RankIt!!”, the first SEO software program in Germany. He has also written several books and is a sought-after speaker at SEO conferences and events. He loves playing guitar, enjoys his 5 kids and has drunk SEO milk since birth. You can write him at thomas /at/