A topic on the JEA Listserv this past weekend caught my attention, it dealt with someone wanting content removed from a student news website. I spoke with the originator of the message, Josh Davis, and one of the responders, Frank LoMonte of the Student Press Law Center. Both allowed me to reprint their exchange here. I think Josh’s question is a great one and something that most staffs with an online presence will be dealing with at one point or another (if they already haven’t). I also think the SPLC Whitepaper, “Responding to Takedown Demands,” that LoMonte has shared is a must read for staffs. You can find it in the link below.
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Request by Josh Davis
In the past few months, I have received several requests from graduates to take down news articles from our news web site. These have not been libelous, inaccurate, or even negative articles.
Graduates seem to be concerned about managing their digital identities so that when they are Googled by potential employers, only the most favorable content will appear.
In the most recent case, the graduate wants us to take down a profile describing his passion for theater because “…it does not reflect my current career goals.”
Are other news web sites getting similar requests? I can’t imagine that I am the only one. How do you respond? What are your policies?
I know my staff will be developing one at our kickoff meeting.
Thanks for your input.
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Response by Frank LoMonte
The answer is the EVERYone — professional, college, even high school — is getting these requests regularly. SPLC has a guide addressing the legal and ethical issues of pulling down archived material:
Frank D. LoMonte, Esq.
Student Press Law Center