When to remove online content

As if the ins and outs of Web publishing weren't challenging enough, news organizations are facing growing questions about whether, how and when to unpublish. Specifically, Poynter looks at when is the the best solution actually to wipe something off a site completely?

Some questions to ask:

* Exactly what is this person asking us to do? Remove an entire article? A portion of an article? Change some element of the information in the article?

* Why is this person making this request?

* How can I verify the identity of the person making the request?

* What was the original journalistic purpose for the article/column/comment/etc.?

* What journalistic purpose does this information serve in its current archival form?

* What journalistic purpose is there if the information is deleted or changed?

* Are there issues of accuracy, fairness and completeness in the original material? If so, how can we verify the claim made by the person who wants the change?

* Who are the stakeholders in this decision, and what consequences might they face if we remove, retain or alter the material in question?

* What alternatives should we consider? They might include: Retain the content as is, delete all of it or part of it, re-report the story, provide the person questioning the content the opportunity to respond with his/her own comments appended to the original content.

* How will we explain and justify the decision we are making?

* How will we provide transparency into what we've done and why?



2 comments about 'When to remove online content'

What journalistic purpose is there if the information is deleted or changed? I like this question because of the word, journalistic. To others, the purpose is more of business.

What about ownership of data? Who owns data?

If it is my biopage you are writing, don’t I have any right to the information placed there like mocked-up charges of rape? Don’t I even have the right to qualification or explanation to such charge?

Ownership of data should be one of the questions included here. If you write me a biopage and put my picture there, I wouldn’t want you to tear me apart – especially if you are making money out of false info about me. This issue, therefore, is very important.

I was referring actually to Wikipedia. They closely guard biopages of people whom they tag as controversial. You try to edit them and they revert your editions in lighting speed. Journalistic or business purpose?

Posted by Jane Abao at August 31, 2007 9:55 PM

It WAS news when it happened and was reported by the newspaper(s). When EXPUNGED, a judge takes a look at everything and decides whether to grant it or not. Some things can not be expunged but those that can - should be completely expunged, including online News Articles. People's backgrounds and information should only be available to certain entities and via certain avenues.

Naturally, there is Freedom of the Press but the press tends to go a bit overboard at times and tend to tell a lot of 'One-Sided' stories to 'Sell their Newspapers' which can be very detrimental to a person or family's future. (But Americans love to see their brethren suffer. Makes us feel as if we are superior.)

Many people have done stupid things but have paid their debt to society and learned from their mistake. Often times, this is their one and only mistake but it continues to haunt them for the rest of their lives. To me, this is NOT just.

Although I feel that their should be a News Archive, that possibly news stories go to after 6months or so, (a place that you specifically have to to go to) but open to the Internet is NOT that place.

All these things would still show up in a background check... just not there for your Child's friends in Elementary/Middle/High School to just be able to grab and cause your kid to attempt suicide.

People argue that, "Once it's out there... it's out there."

Yes, things should be removed and placed in an Archive whereas only certain entities have access.

- Not trying to forget the offense, just trying to forgive them for it.

Posted by Tommy at July 22, 2010 11:02 AM

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