The Right To Be Forgotten Online

The right to be forgotten online is a really interesting subject to us here at PDG Advertising. In a world where we likely contribute to an increased level of data on every individual, and with the ability to target people with relevant adverts, the right to be forgotten online is a hot topic right now.


This is a post created on request of one of our valued Instagram followers, Brenda. Thank you to Brenda for asking us about the right to be forgotten.

What is the right to be forgotten?

Wikipedia says:

The right to be forgotten is a concept that has been discussed and put into practice both in the European Union (EU) and, since 2006, in Argentina. The issue has arisen from desires of individuals to “determine the development of their life in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past.”

Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) article can be found here:

The simplified answer is that those who are controlling data within Europe are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that, on request, a person can remove private and public data relating to them held by the controller.

The issue gets complicated with viral, internet-based stories that have very high levels of data from many different sources. These stories replicate all over the internet and seem impossible to police.

Why is it relevant today?

This BBC news article discusses a recent case in which Google won the right not to apply the right to be forgotten globally, but only in Europe:

Full disclosure from PDG Advertising: As an advertiser, I want companies like Facebook and Google to build up data on the public so I can help connect customers to my clients. This isn’t just to sell things, but to facilitate communication between two people easily online.

My opinion might be controversial here, but I don’t think the right to be forgotten can be enforced effectively in a post-2019 world. We learned last week about the ability of Facebook to track your phone down to the shops you visit. The sheer amount of data we are constantly leaking about ourselves makes it impossible to effectively police it at any level.

I think that you lose the right to be forgotten the second you want to become involved in the internet. The temptation to be involved is strong. The internet is the most powerful thing the world has ever seen. You can opt out of being tracked and having your data saved, but then you won’t be able to use your smartphone, connect with anyone on social media/messaging apps or learn any subject in minutes.

The price of entry to the internet is to give up the right to be forgotten.

I do hold great concern about advertisers’ ability to put things in front of you that they think you like. This reinforces your opinions, which means that you don’t get a balanced view of opinions. We call this a filter bubble. Many believe that the filter bubble contributed to the Trump election in the USA as well as Brexit in the UK. Who knows how many micro-decisions it is affecting every day.

What can you do?

There are some ways in which you can practically use the internet so as not to be tracked. This can allow you to get a more balanced view of world events. To do this, you can:

  • Use incognito mode on browsers
  • Get out of the filter bubble and look at both sides of arguments and content online
  • Shop around


I hope this added some value to you, and thank you, Brenda, for asking us this question!

Speak soon.


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