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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




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).


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


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.


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.



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.


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.



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