As the faculty adviser to the Corsair newspaper at Santa Monica College, I received a request this weekend from a woman who sounded pretty desperate. An article published online at the Corsair four years ago included background information about her that she no longer wanted public. “This issue has recently affected me in a profound way and I want to remove this once and for all,” she wrote.
On a human level, I felt her pain. Who wouldn’t mind erasing some untidy bits of personal history?
But then the journalism professor took center stage and I was outraged. The story was accurate and the information hardly offensive. The story was already published. To remove it now to suit someone’s whim went against all my journalism training and beliefs.
The Corsair staff explored the issue during class today. It made for a lively ethical discussion of a growing controversy in digital publishing: The Right to be Forgotten
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