Why I am writing about the rubbish on the internet and why I, a staunch supporter of free expression, fierce opponent to censorship and anti-regulations, can see the point of ( and empathise with) many of the people who back a European court action to correct (good luck to them !!) information about them and their data on the internet. What inspired me is personal experience. Only yesterday I discovered, that a young lady, close to my heart, had the WRONG information about my date of birth and my faith ( which caused some serious damage to our affectionate relationship- I hope we can repair), from some rubbish on the internet. The other reason, unfortunately, my fellow hacks and hacketts, seldom check information for accuracy. Equally in 2009 the Media Editor of the Independent newspaper, PUBLISHED a story about me when I resigned my post as Director of the Media monitoring organisation Just Journalism, and labelled me wrongly ( ethnically), he neither bothered to contact me, nor to check his own newspaper archives.. I worked for The Independent since I joined when it was founded in 1986 and until 1998 ( and continued to write for the paper until four years ago), and my personal information and files were available in his newsdesk; instead of checking facts he ‘guessed’. This thought in my head also coincides with the row over google and correcting or deleting personal information. I sympathise with the people who scream for regulation, although as an old fashioned hack and a staunch libertarian, I am the last person in the world who’d agree on censorship or some regulation blocking access to information. but my personal experience and what you can do when WRONG and confusing information is out there for the world to see and you are powerless to correct them? Only a few days ago, there was a confusion with the young lady I mentioned, over my Chinese horoscope and which animal sign of the Chinese zodiac I came under… I was puzzled since this person, very dear to my heart, insisting I was the year of the rat or the horse ( I think) I was puzzled; as I know for certain being born in December, the sign is Sagittarius under western zodiac, and my children- especially the young ones worked out I was the year of the rooster … then it dawned on me she must have got a wrong birth-year ( since I recall telling her about getting a gentleman’s stick with silver top horse’s head since this year , February 2014 the year of the horse while I am actually year of the rooster ) … Using not just google, bing, yahoo, mercury, Wow, etc (about a dozen search engines) putting my name .. ( and to start with, there was different variation of how various ‘ experts’ and ‘ commentators’ spelt my name) .. there was over one million entries (1,410,000 ) on google alone. But add the other search engines results… it is impossible to count the web-pages, sites and entries or even to check who says what about you, which then taken and spun by someone, especially fellow hacks, as facts !! Now what has confused the young lady in question whether I was born in the year of the rat, or of the horse ( both wrong as I am year of the rooster since my wiz-kids, 13 & 10 who are wiser than this dinosaur, calculated how many times the year of the Rooster occurred this century: it was nine times, and the tenth in two years: 1909,1921,1933,1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1994, 2006, 2018). I checked sites and unreliable reference sites like Wikipedia ( god knows why people volunteer to add entries based on guessing, impression and opinion not information) .. I realised, if we believe any of those sites ( some advertise themselves as the source of accurate knowledge) I have a half a dozen birth-dates putting my age between 43 and 87 years. ( may be, as historian, writing, in my books, about events I researched accurately that some less careful readers thought I lived theme). Amusingly, I discovered I also belong to five faiths as well as being an atheist, according to sites on the net. I am Jewish ( both Ashkenazi and Sephardic), but at the same time a ” reactionary” catholic, “a devout” Muslim and ” a racist” Protestant ( from the American southern belt- an area I never visited) . Meanwhile I turned out to be “immoral” Shia working for the Iranians.. I am also “a disgusting ” atheist/non-believer and a devil- worshipper ( amazingly no sites suggested I was incestuous sleeping with my mother or my sister and nobody, yet said I was a grave digging necrophiliac– so please if anyone comes across those sites, I beg send a link). While some commentators /sites insist that my Church of England “public school brainwashing” made me an excellent recruit for the MI6 ( needless to say that Arabic and Muslim sites have the ” proof” I was a CIA agent and/Or active member of the Mossad.). I also worked for Moscow. My comments and writings in the past few months saying Ukraine crisis was of EU making and we should also see and respect Moscow’s point of view, added another label that I was working for Mr Putin’s intelligence ( why would I leave the CIA to get lesser fees from the Russians? no-none explained since all agree I had no principles but a hired pen for the highest bidder ) I am also, pro-Israel Zionist, and anti Israel liberal lefty,, anti-Arab and anti-west, also a right-wing reactionary dinosaur, sexist, imperialists, bigot anti Muslims and homophobic climate change denier, although some sites say I was a closet communist– nobody , yet, suggested I work for the Chinese intelligence agencies ; so again please if anyone comes across sites containing such claim, please send a link.
As for my nationality and ethnic origins, only two or three sites, either by checking information, or more learned guess observation mentioned more correct facts than nonsense ( they still contain many errors) and were factual that I was a British journalist and author, CoE, ethnically Balkans & central Europe ancestries.. Surf the net and you will find me American, Egyptian Copt, and Egyptian Jew and Iraqi Jew ( self-hating Jew according to zealous Zionists comments under my reports as correspondent, when they deemed not too flattering of Israel); also Shia from Bahrain, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq. While some say I was Palestine at the same time, I am also Israeli ; a Scotsman ( may be penname Alex Darwin to blame ?) … and most bizarrely an Australian ( was that a comment on my alcohol consumption? although I won’t be seen dead holding a can of lager !!).
I have no answer as how anyone can possibly correct the nonsense and rubbish about themselves on references sites and on the internet? Worse still, as it happened with me personally the Media Editor of a national Newspaper ( the Independent where I worked from pre-Launch in 1986 till 1999) where my files are kept in the personnel department and on the newsdesk , he did not bother to check-facts and ‘ guessed’ or copied from the first site he encountered on the net. Fellow hacks don’t bother checking facts. And as in most cases, where someone wrongly accused, had been wrongly ladled etc, and cleared his/her name or the paper printed correction or amended the site, the rubbish and the nonsense still there for lazy ( majority) hacks to copy and publish. Even if you have the time and resource to get a court order, good luck and how on earth you are going to enforce it? I failed , so did my various British and American publishers to stop publishing houses owned by Middle Eastern governments reprinting translations of my books … so good luck with websites You might be able to morally blackmail yahoo, or google etc.. but what about sites like Wikipedia which is open to anyone who fancies themselves more knowledgeable about a person than the person himself, and hundreds of thousands of sites.. ? How are you going to correct the information there?
I have no general answer or idea.. but perhaps my own individual choice : given the experience with the Independent media editor in 2009, I should hurry up and write my own official autobiography/memoir before one of my fellow hacks ( who never check facts) volunteers to pen my obituary when I am no longer in a position to correct the bastard!!!
© Copyright Adel Darwish 2014, not to be reproduced or printed in full or in part without permission of the author