Bogus court documents, compliant search engines, and Scientology-style rehabs - 2017-08-10
Yesterday The Hollywood Reporter provided a curtain-raiser for season two of Leah Remini's A&E series with a couple of interesting articles. Seth Abramovitch wrote a new profile of Leah, and Gary Baum posted a disturbing story about how information critical of Per Wickstrom's Narconon-style rehabs in Michigan was the subject of de-indexing requests made to search engines like Google through the use of what appear to be bogus court documents.
We were getting a lot of questions about that article, and we thought we'd break it down a little to help people understand what's at issue. And also, it turns out that we were involved in the article's backstory.
You see, last September we heard from a very helpful reader who keeps a close watch on the Lumen database for us. Formerly known as "chillingeffects.org," the Lumen database is a place that keeps track of takedown requests that are made to Google, and on occasion our tipster finds evidence of, for example, someone like Bob Duggan or one of his agents requesting that Google "de-index" one of our stories.
Instead of confronting us directly about our stories, these complainants go to Google, hoping that the search giant will make it tougher for Internet users to find our stories.