Friday, February 03, 2012

The reason for that last post

I am attending a symposium on privacy, as I said a couple of posts ago.  In one of the sessions, a panelist (I can't remember his name without looking it up, except that it was not Eugene Volokh) was discussing the new European privacy laws.  He talked about the underpinning being "the right to be forgotten."

He then said that Facebook and Google already had mechanisms which would allow you to take down embarrassing information that you placed on the web yourself.

No.  At least, not in the case of Blogger blogs.

In the last post, I was testing whether I could take down a post and have it disappear from Google Reader.  I already knew the answer; I was doublechecking that I was right. [Edited to add: D'oh! If you are  reading this on my blog, as opposed to Google Reader, you can't see the last post because I deleted it.]

Occasionally there is a post I think better of later, usually because I was posting late at night and my judgment was impaired.  Or because in retrospect I felt the post was whiny.  Or because I had decided not to publish it (but still wanted to keep the piece of writing) but had hit the "Publish" button rather than the "Save" button. I have tried to remove them to no avail.

Once something is on Google Reader, it is there forever.  I have read other complaints about this from other bloggers on the Blogger forums.  The explanation I have seen given is that it is an RSS feed and once something is out there, it is out there.  I do understand about RSS feeds -- I set up the RSS feed for LiveJournal to access.

But if it is an RSS feed, how come I can edit posts?  I can't edit the posts that have been picked up by the regular RSS feed, but I can and have it show up in Google Reader.  It may be that there is some process by which one can write to Google and get them to delete posts, but I have yet to see it. [Edited to add: the test post did not appear on LiveJournal, which uses an RSS feed.]

I'm not arguing one way or another about the European policy privacy, or privacy in general, simply making an empirical observation.

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