The Internet remembers everything - birthdays, parties, graduations, grandparents, love and loss. It also remembers revenge porn, murderabilia, hate memes and impostor, hijacked or hacked accounts. If you are a victim of targeted abuse, your problems may already be stored in any number of places and now have a life of their own.
It’s not Google. Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the other search engines and browsers are not the source, they are the catalog. It is not any one service, platform or website. It is all of them together - along with libraries, archives and data depositories.
Anything posted on the Internet can find its way into one of these corners and hide or emerge at any time. Like a digital rat of data in the walls of a rambling virtual metropolis - multiplying.
When some falsehood, lie, distortion or defamation happens, it can never be fully erased. Even if the perpetrator is taken to court, found guilty and order to take down the content, they can be powerless to eliminate everything they are ordered to remove. The nasty bit of evil at issue may have already found a hiding place in some dark corner of the net.
The victims are left with one alternative, run the maze, chase the data rats and kill them when possible.
But data resurfaces at unpredictable times. Victims of crime, abuse and malice can be re-victimized again and again. This memory quirk of technology that makes the Internet so important and horrifying simultaneously is now the core of our daily lives.
The possible answers are equally ugly. Preemptively control content? Make the perpetrators and not the victims responsible for the perpetual clean-up?
We need to agree on the questions before we can hope for answers.