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Google as a political subject: the right to be forgotten debate 2014-2016

Linnéa Lindsköld (Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 29 August 2018

Issue publication date: 13 September 2018

799

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to create knowledge on how Google and Google search are discursively constructed as a political subject suitable or not suitable for governing in the debate regarding the Right to be Forgotten ruling (RTBF).

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 28 texts are analysed using a Foucauldian discourse analysis focussing on political problematisations in the media and in blogs.

Findings

Google is conceptualised as a commercial company, a neutral facilitator of the world and as a judge of character. The discourse makes visible Google’s power over knowledge production. The individual being searched is constructed as a political object that is either guilty or innocent, invoking morality as a part of the policy. The ruling is framed as giving individuals power over companies, but the power still lies within Google’s technical framework.

Originality/value

The ruling opens up an empirical possibility to critically examine Google. The value of the study is the combination of focus on Google as a political subject and the individual being searched to understand how Google is constructed in the discourse.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was conducted within the project “Knowledge in a Digital World. Trust, Credibility and Relevance on the Web”, funded by a framework grant from the Swedish Research Council 2013-2016.

Citation

Lindsköld, L. (2018), "Google as a political subject: the right to be forgotten debate 2014-2016", Online Information Review, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 768-783. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-06-2017-0198

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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