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theEweekly Wrap

Google Removal Messages – Facebook Study Probe – Man vs Instagram

Google messages Publishers about right to be forgotten removals

This week, Google has been getting in touch with online publishers to tell them that links have been removed from search results because of the right to be forgotten.

Lots of publishers say they've received a Google notification about link removals. These are sites like the BBC, the Guardian, and even smaller industry specific sites like searchengineland.com.

The right to be forgotten came to everyone's attention in May. On grounds of privacy and irrelevance, Spaniard Mario Costeja Gonzalez successfully argued that when you search for his name in Google the search should not show results about an embarrassing house repossession issue he had in 1998.

He spoke to the Guardian at the time and said "I was fighting for the elimination of data that adversely affects people's honour, dignity and exposes their private lives."

Since that time there's been much concern about where these changes could take us. The two sides of the debate are plain enough. On the one hand, that people should have the right to such removals under the right conditions. On the other, that this is basically censorship, and how do we make a distinction between what should and shouldn't go.

Now the first wave of removals are coming through and The Guardian's James Bell thinks that Google has tacitly taken a side in the debate:

"It's clearly a reluctant participant in what effectively amounts to censorship. Whether for commercial or free speech reasons (or both), it's informing sites when their content is blocked."

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Facebook faces probe over emotion study

Next up. Things look pretty uncomfortable over at Facebook, which is facing a probe from a UK regulatory body after its somewhat unpopular emotion experiment caused an intellectual and public outcry.

The study was done on just shy of 700,000 users and was in collaboration with two high profile colleges, Cornell University and University of California. They were trying to find out does exposure to certain emotions change the posting behaviour of users. Controversially, it turns out the answer is yes.

As a result the experiment has not gone down well. It's been condemned for the fact that users were not told they were participating in the study. It's been criticised for failing to conform to ethical standards by legal experts. And it's been questioned by politicians such as Jim Sheridan MP who pledged to investigate if new legislation is needed.

Earlier this week, news broke online suggesting that Facebook may have broken UK data protection laws with its study. And the Financial Times reported that the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) are probing the experiment.

Facebook doesn't appear to be sweating it though. Richard Allan, director of policy in Europe, said Facebook is happy to answer any questions the regulators may have.

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Man finds rude

And finally, Man vs Food star Adam Richman has had his new show indefinitely postponed after he served up a fierce selection of insults to users on Instagram.

It all started when for his new photo on the site he cooked up a comment which read:

"Had ordered this suit from a Savile Row tailor over a year ago. Think I'm gonna need to take it in a little ..."

It was intended to be an innocuous comment about losing weight, but one commentator picked up on Richman's use of the hashtag #thinspiration. Saying it "glorifies negative media self-imagery that being thin is better as opposed to any other body style".

It so turns out that the hashtag has ties both to anorexia sufferers and to blogs and sites which promote unhealthy amounts of weight loss.

Being made aware of this, you would probably expect an apology of sorts. Richman, responded:

'Does it look like I give a ****'

And he didn't stop dolloping out the abuse there, liberally dishing out insults to any critics.

"No apology is coming. If it inspires someone to attain a healthy thinner body then that was what it was meant to do."

As if thinks weren't hot enough already the Travel Channel, due to air Richman's new show Man Finds Food in July, then announced they were postponing his show - indefinitely.

They say if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. By this point the drama was all too much for Richman, who has since gone on the telly to apologise.

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