One of the great strengths of the web is its function as a searchable, retrievable archive. The ability to isolate and zoom in on information has made Google one of the powerhouse companies of the last decade.
What should we do when a reader asks for the removal from the site of something he or she had said several years ago? People's views, after all, can change, and the positions one takes as a young person are not always the same after a few years. With a trend for employers to "Google" prospective employees, those comments could be potentially damaging to future job prospects.
In the past, retrieving such information from, say, a local paper would have been time-consuming and an unlikely recourse for an employer. Now, with the results available in a few seconds, past indiscretions can quickly become public knowledge.
My instinct is to refuse requests for removal; airbrushing material from the past just feels plain wrong and could open the door to hundreds, if not thousands, of revisionist requests. It seems to me that you have to live by the consequences and if you've expressed a view in a public forum you have to accept that it might come back to haunt you.
For the future though, might this realisation of Google-power sound the death knell of the vox pop and phone-in?