Establishing a clear and actionable Unpublishing Policy that works
What should an organization do if it faces these unpublishing requests?
I understand you have a 1st amendment right to publish my mugshot, but this is something that happened over 10 yrs ago. Will you remove my mugshot?
How do I remove my personal and company information from your publically-available corporate database?
I bought a restaurant and the previous owners had bad press. Can you please remove this article?
Unpublish works closely with publishers to establish a clear and actionable unpublishing Policy, driven by transparency, communication, and best business practices. Permanent digital records potentially give you and many others reasons to make requests to unpublish online content. It could be that the published information is inaccurate, unfair, unbalanced, or just simply outdated. Oftentimes requests to unpublish are based on “source remorse,” privacy concerns, or related to resolved criminal charges. Regardless of whether the online publisher is a traditional news organization, new media outlet, or a database driven service such as public records archives or people finder sites, there are many implications of requests to unpublish material that has attained electronic immortality on the web. None of these types of online publishers wants to jeopardize their credibility; thus, smart publishers are creating unpublish policies for consistent application. Using the premises listed below as guidelines helps online publishers set standards for best practices when it comes to considering consumer requests to unpublish.
Everyone has a permanent record on the Net. – Jack McElroy, Knoxville News Sentinel Editor
Online publishers are in the publishing business and generally should not unpublish without a truly compelling reason: In rare instances, there may be circumstances involving egregious error or violation of journalistic ethics where it is deemed necessary to remove content, or at least correct it, in a transparent manner.
Even with the adoption of a policy against unpublishing, online publishers have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy of all published content and should correct errors as soon as the new information is verified.
Besides legality, sometimes fairness is the right reason to unpublish. In rare cases, content may be unpublished because it cannot be corrected and/or it is the humane thing to do under the particular circumstances.
Online publishers should always give careful consideration to the implications of publishing any information before publication. The permanence and easy accessibility of anything published on the web calls for careful consideration of the potential impact. Publications should be aware of the implications of online publishing and have a clear Unpublishing Policy posted that the public can access.
In cases where the requested content passes the ethical barrier, publishers should predetermine the associated costs to unpublish and communicate those costs to the consumer in a clear and transparent manner.