Friday, July 04, 2014

Manipulation and the Robert Peston story

The news media is all a flutter with the news that they're being 'censored' by Google. More specifically, that the European 'right to be forgotten' has led to Robert Peston's article on Stan O'Neal (ex Merrill CEO) being 'removed' [from searches on google.co.uk].  Stan has said he has 'no knowledge' of this. What's going on?

Well, first there's a big assumption that it's Stan who asked for the removal. It turns out, that this may well not be the case and that someone called Peter Dragomer (who wrote a comment on the original post) might have asked for this. 

Interestingly when you search for the name 'Peter Dragomer' and compare .com to .co.uk search then another NPR article also seems to 'disappear'. However search for Stan O'Neal and a mass of negative articles can still be found in the .co.uk search (NB 'right to forget' only applies to google.co.uk and not google.com).

So, could it be Peter Dragomer who asked for this and not Stan (who denies doing so)? Also, who is Peter Dragomer? Well, we don't know. There's very little detail. There's a chap called @PDragomer (who doesn't tweet) and who happens to be involved in a new beta site all about Politician reputations - The Politician - but that's about all. There's no linkedin, no facebook, no photo album to speak of and ... well, I'm doing this while having a coffee break, so I don't have time. I'll expect some reporter will find out whether Peter Dragomer asked for this and also whether he actually exists.

Actually exists? Ok, why do I care? Well, this all seems a bit fishy to me.

A Google 'right to forget' notice on a high profile reporter on a high profile ex CEO which is bound to cause angst / outrage. An ex CEO who knows 'nothing' about it. A mysterious person, a political reputation web site in beta? It all feels cloak and dagger but that's just my natural cynicism. There's actually nothing to go on.

My guess (and this is just a guess) is that it's either as @cpswan said
Or an even more machiavellian stunt designed to highlight the issue of manipulation through the media.

Who could do this? Well, you'd be looking for someone smart enough to play such a game and who might be interested in shifting the recent dialog on manipulation. I'm sure we will find out soon enough.

As it currently stands, due to a lack of transparency (well, people want to be forgotten) then all that can be said is 'no-one knows'. As for the future, expect more of this.

Oh, and of course the irony is that most of us had forgotten about Stan O'Neal, one of the worst CEOs  of all time according to CNBC. Now, it's all new again and likely to remain news for sometime.
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