Down the memory hole

Eugene Volokh started an interesting thread last week about whether or not one should consider deleting someone’s name from old blog posts if he requests you to because, for example, he doesn’t want acquaintances or prospective employers finding it by Googling his name. Volokh’s example regarded a person’s past misconduct. I’ve just received a similar request regarding commentary on a person’s previously published opinion. There’s no question that it was appropriate to comment on at the time. The question is whether there’s still any value in leaving his name attached to the post and if I should honor the request. There’s nothing egregiously objectionable in this person’s opinion, nor has he necessarily renounced it.

Like Volokh, I’m of two minds about this, so I’ll open the matter up to comments. Under what conditions, if any, should past blog posts be edited for the convenience of the people they reference?


6 thoughts on “Down the memory hole”

  1. Personally, I don’t see any supremely compelling reason to keep a name attached if the author has asked you to remove it. Whatever their reason, it’s simply the curteous thing to do. Especially since, let’s be honest, it isn’t like a ton of people really go through archives. Employers might find it with a search, but not too many other people are going to be interested.

  2. Agreeing with Matt. Particularly if the comments were posted when the commenter was a young, naive 18-year-old. (not that it’s ever happened to me…)

  3. i’d say it’d have to be a case-by-case decision, but generally the answer should be no, don’t accommodate the request. it seems that people are considering this issue in small numbers — one guy wanting his name removed. what about the work involved in receiving and accommodating these requests especially if there are a large number of them, as with perhaps a larger site. should the site owner be responsible for correcting poster’s (perhaps) hasty posts?

  4. I agree that on a larger blog it may be more difficult to accomplish this task, but that doesn’t mean the answer should generally be no. If it’s hard to do, or there’s lots of posts, or otherwise burdensome, then we can weigh costs and benefits (and heck maybe you could ask for something for your troubles)(wow, the non-marketplace guy just came up with that). But if it’s easy? Just have done with it. Call it an act of kindness. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

  5. It depends, but especially in the case of an old post, I’d generally positively consider removing the name.

    The internet has tied us to our distant pasts very closely, which is often fine, but occasionally burdensome. If it’s a neutral request, not someone trying to whitewash history, I’d generally give them the benefit of the doubt and remove the name.

  6. I get these fairly often, though more often for instances in which I’ve mentioned them rather than them posting themselves. Thinking back on it, I’ve basically done what RumorsDaily has described: I won’t whitewash, but I will redact names where the request is idiosyncratic.

    And I never delete the post or comment, but only redact the name, noting that the name has been redacted.

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