Google has deleted “tens of thousands” of links to news stories about topics including child rape, political corruption, and fraud since 2011, often due to bogus copyright complaints filed by people using fake identities, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The disappeared links reportedly include stories about a man accused of attempted child rape, corruption allegations against politicians, and fraudulent business activities.
After the Journal revealed its findings to Google, the company told the newspaper that it restored over 52,000 links that had been incorrectly removed.
Via the Wall Street Journal:
The Journal identified hundreds of instances in which individuals or companies, often using apparently fake identities, caused the Alphabet Inc. unit to remove links to unfavorable articles and blog posts that alleged wrongdoing by convicted criminals, foreign officials and businesspeople in the U.S. and abroad.
Google took them down in response to copyright complaints, many of which appear to be bogus, the Journal found in an analysis of information from the more than four billion links sent to Google for removal since 2011.
Google’s system was set up to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. The 1998 law gives tech firms immunity from claims in copyright cases as long they quickly take down copyrighted material once alerted.
Copyright complaints filed with Google are, more often than not, successful. As the Journal’s article notes, Google’s transparency reports show that it removed close to 80 percent of links that were reported for copyright violations last year.
The company, along with other tech giants, has long been in the crosshairs of the entertainment lobby for failing to take down copyrighted content — in 2012, an attempt to strengthen online copyright laws led to a major backlash from tech companies and ordinary internet users, causing the proposed legislation to be shelved.
Google will post notices in its search results when links have been removed due to copyright complaints. A record of DMCA content removal requests is kept at the Lumen database.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.