Remember Donna Barstow? She's the cartoonist with a history of bogus legal threats who got into an ill-considered internet fight with the forum goons of Something Awful when they posted some her cartoons in a thread that criticizes awful cartooning. I wrote about her in July 2012, which resulted in a truly surreal phone call from her. I also wrote about her odd follow-up rant in which she suggested that copyright is a federal crime. Apparently she actually meant that copyright violation is a federal crime. I think.
Anyway, this morning (that is, nearly 17 months after I wrote about her) I got an email from Google indicating that she had complained that my post contained private information:
We're writing from Google.com to bring the following page to your attention:
A Whois search indicated that you're the host for this page.
A concerned user contacted us to report that handwritten signature is published on this page. We hope that you'll assist this individual in restricting access to this private information by removing the page from the web. If it's changed to return a true 404 error via the http headers, please let us know and we'll also remove the listing from the Google index.
We appreciate your assistance. Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
The Google Team
On 11/18/13 15:54:25 email@example.com wrote:
your_name: D. Barstow
hidden_subject_signature: Your personal information removal request for a
As far as I can tell, Ms. Barstow has used a Google tool asking Google to remove my post about her from Google's search results. Her premise is that I published "private information" about her — to wit, her "handwritten signature."
There's only one place Ms. Barstow's signature appears in my post about her — it's in her cartoon about Mexico, which I put in the post to comment upon it, criticize it, and report on ongoing allegations that some of her cartoons are racist or otherwise obnoxious. It's the signature that she displays to the world in all of the cartoons she publishes. It's "private" in the sense that you can't see it unless you look at one of her cartoons on her web site or published elsewhere by her.
I've written back to Google. I presume they won't fall for what I can only characterize as a dishonest — and even fraudulent — attempt to de-list criticism.
I've written Ms. Barstow seeking comment. I'll update this post if I get a reply.
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