How can I delete a Usenet post from 20 years ago?

Brock Lesnar April 8, 2013
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I believe it is impossible unless you are a good hacker(and I know there are some good hackers out there), but I thought I would ask the question. If you posted something on a Usenet group 20 years ago, and you don’t have your user id and password anymore, how can you delete the posting without getting a court order to prove who you are and that you posted it 20 years ago. The webmaster for this Usenet group doesn’t exist anymore. I was surprised to see the Google search engine actually be able to pull up stuff for the Usenet groups from 20 years ago. If this is not possible, then my question instead is, how can you trick the Google search engine to alter something from coming up on the first page of Google, to coming up on the 3 or 4 page in the Google search engine? I’m sure there are tricks on how to do this?

  1. Oron Joffe
    April 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Rob's right. Usernet is a distributed sysstem, and there are copies of the content all over the world, in thousands of servers, not to mention on private computers. Google's "time machine" makes things worse, since they archive the material and make it easy to search. In short, you can't.

  2. Rob H
    April 9, 2013 at 8:42 am

    It's difficult/impossible because the content isn't just in one place but may originally have been replicated to thousands of usenet servers. Whilst usenet services compete for the greatest retention time for binaries (typically about 4 years) plain text may be retained longer. Google acquired Deja-News which had provided a longer term archive and incorporated that into Google Groups but there may be other public facing usenet servers still holding the content.
    Individuals may also have local copies of groups they follow archived on their own PCs.

    Even more difficult if you can't authenticate yourself as the original poster.
    As for getting the item to appear further down Google's results - well that's going to depend what search phrase is being used. Having identified a search phrase that returns the result on page one you could then try to get that search phrase to appear in many other well indexed places. Difficult. And there may be several search phrases that return the posting high in Google results.

    Not much help to you but for others reading this, the moral of the story is if you make a public pronouncement you should expect it to remain in the public domain forever.
    I once decided against doing business with someone because my internet background search on him unearthed his interest in a category of images I considered to reflect badly on his character.

  3. Michael Heffner
    April 9, 2013 at 4:17 am

    File a DMCA request with Google to have the search removed. It's an automated process here.

  4. Chris Marcoe
    April 8, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    the original webmaster might not exist anymore, but someone has got to be in control of it, right? I would think you need to find that person and \go from there.