The Right to be Forgotten

Vicki Davis writes in Reinventing Writing that "[blogging] is one of the most powerful ways to help students experience writing for an audience." The CoolCatTeacher goes on to promote teaching students the difference between a private journal and a public blog.

We want our students to blog because they become better writers when writing for an audience of their peers. We want to tell our students, "Sweethearts, please stop typing your blogs during class. I have to teach a lesson today." We want our students to become addicted to writing! At the same time, we want to teach our students how to protect their privacy so that they will not need the Right to be Forgotten.

By the time I finished reading Chapter 8 Reinventing Journals and Reports: Blogging and Microblogging, I felt the need to connect with the CoolCatTeacher because I had been teaching my students the difference my between private journals and public blogs without knowing that other educators did the same.

My twitter conversation with Vicki Davis confirmed my belief that we must teach students that what is written in texts, posts, blogs, etc, stays around forever. We must model appropriate online behavior on a protected student LMS such as My Big Campus, knowing that students will make mistakes, and those mistakes should not follow them forever. We must follow the educational philosophy of Will Richardson and George Couros who promote teaching our students how to create a positive Google footprint.

A positive Google footprint is extremely important. A Spanish citizen learned this the hard way when an online Spanish newspaper posted an article in 1998 about the man's home being repossessed. Years later, when the man was Googled, the not-so-flattering article appeared at the top of the search - this despite the fact that the financial matter had been resolved with the bank.

Angry that the 1998 article still adversely affected him in 2010, the Spanish citizen took charged and sued the newspaper and Google for the right to be forgotten. Four years later, in May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that individuals have the right - under certain conditions - "to ask search engines to remove links to personal information that is inaccurate, irrelevant, or excessive" (European Union). This right is balanced with the freedom of expression and assessed by the EU on a case-by-case basis. The very same topic is being debated in the United States by people like Mike Godwin, a Washington-based attorney, and Mieke Eoyang, director of the National Security Program at Third Way. 

But take a good look at the European Union's ruling - the newspaper is under no obligation to remove the information. Instead, the Google search links are removed. The information still exists somewhere, somehow! Removing irrelevant and outdated links is not tantamount to deleting the content. Thus, we must teach our students how to create a positive Google footprint and how to fix a muddied online reputation.

What is better than suing to remove links? How about creating a positive online presence that our grandma, mama, and little brother and sister would be proud of?

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Student Privacy: Four Rules to Teach Students How to Draw the Line Podcast.
  1. Privacy, Paper Blogs & Meaningful Commenting
  2. The Right to be Forgotten
  3. The Mama Rule
  4. Review - Private Journal vs. Public Blog Chart
  5. The Lincoln Rule
  6. The Common Sense Rule - Do Not Brag about Criminal Activity
  7. The One Exception 
  8. The Positive Google Footprint Rule - Your Resume


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Couros, George. 5 Reasons Your Students Should Blog. The Principal of Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2014.

CURIA. Press and Information. Court of Justice of the European Union. N.p., 13 May 2014. Web. 6 Sept. 2014. Unofficial document for media use, not binding on the Court of Justice

Davis, Vicki A. Reinventing Writing: The 9 Tools That Are Changing Writing, Teaching, and Learning Forever. N.p.: Routledge, 2014. Kindle Edition.

Eoyang, Mieke. Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten' Is All Wrong. US News. U.S.News & World Report, 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 06 Sept. 2014.

European Union. Factsheet on the "Right to Be Forgotten Ruling. C-131/12 (2014): n. pag. Web. 6 Sept. 2014.

Garten Ash, Timothy. This House Believes in the Right to Be Forgotten. Free Speech Debate. International Debate Education Association, n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2014.

Scola, Nancy. The Creator of Godwin's Law on the Inevitability of Online Nazi Analogies and the ‘right to Be Forgotten’. Washington Post. The Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 06 Sept. 2014.

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