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Right to be Forgotten

Right to be Forgotten

Update: 2019-08-2359
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In an online world, that story about you lives forever. The tipsy photograph of you at the college football game? It’s up there. That news article about the political rally you were marching at? It’s up there. A DUI? That’s there, too. But what if ... it wasn’t.


In Cleveland, Ohio, a group of journalists are trying out an experiment that has the potential to turn things upside down: they are unpublishing content they’ve already published. Photographs, names, entire articles. Every month or so, they get together to decide what content stays, and what content goes. On today’s episode, reporter Molly Webster goes inside the room where the decisions are being made, listening case-by-case as editors decide who, or what, gets to be deleted. It’s a story about time and memory; mistakes and second chances; and society as we know it.


This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Molly Webster and Bethel Habte. 


Special thanks to Kathy English, David Erdos, Ed Haber, Brewster Kahle, Imani Leonard, Ruth Samuel, James Bennett II, Alice Wilder, Alex Overington, Jane Kamensky and all the people who helped shape this story.


Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate


To learn more about Cleveland.com’s “right to be forgotten experiment,” check out the very first column Molly read about the project.

Comments (10)

Rachel Patterson

This was a very interesting and relevant episode. I honestly didn't know anything about this potentially revolutionary idea of "the right to be forgotten." I also appreciated that the journalists didn't give much of their personal input on this one and just reported honestly on the complexity of the issue. Is Radiolab perfect? Of course not. There are moments they cross a line or come across biased or maybe even reveal political leanings (maybe even ones I disagree with). But overall, I really enjoy the creativity, research, and human feeling that goes into this show.

Sep 5th
Reply

Mae Lee Arant

You can pay google for this " reputation" cleansing so that you dont find information about if you have the funds. Look up Koch and see what relatively little information you can find any more about these political monsters.

Aug 29th
Reply

Jonathan Bergeron

The arrogance of Google is staggering. Who the hell are they to decide the fate of individuals that have literally 0% to do with their business.

Aug 26th
Reply

J MB

this is just journalists clinging to a sense of importance of meaning in their work. If a record is expunged or sealed that means the courts (who represent the people) believe forgetting the wrongdoing is in the best interest of the public. Their poor grasp of what matters here and stubbornness will eventually result in court imposed regulation like they have in Europe.

Aug 24th
Reply

D.T.W.,ll

Justin Hopkins I agree

Aug 27th
Reply

Justin Hopkins

J MB also who remembers every face of every silly meme or picture or video they see, you will fade into the background of history just like the rest of us unless the deed was especially hannus ehem Epstein

Aug 25th
Reply

Chris Brown

it pisses me off that someone's charge can be expunged yet these journalists think they are above the courts.

Aug 23rd
Reply

Pirate Tom

Chris Brown how do they think theyre above the courts

Aug 29th
Reply

Chris Brown

Chris Rademacher expunged means erased. they have repairs their debt to society and been given a second chance.

Aug 25th
Reply
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