Friday, May 31, 2024

Pew Research: When Online Content Disappears

I run into this problem regularly.  I search for something that I know exists - because I've used it before - and it is not there. Sometimes I can find it on the Wayback Machine, but often times I can't.  It is gone for good.  This Pew Research report (full report) is about just that - the disappearance of online content. There is a lot to digest here. For starters:

  • A quarter of all webpages that existed at one point between 2013 and 2023 are no longer accessible.
  • 23% of news webpages contain at least one broken link, as do 21% of webpages from government sites. 

Pew does not provide a solution. We know that archiving the enter Internet is not possible, especially since some content is deleted quickly (even within the same day).  Is this a problem that is out of our control and that will just get worse? Is there some way that we can ensure that critical content - however defined - is preserved?

If you have ideas or resources, please drop a comment below.