When you publish your writing online, there is very little chance that you will ever be able to delete it entirely.
You might write articles, blog posts, or submit your short stories or poetry to posting sites.
Whatever form of writing you publish online, you need to know how permanent it can be.
Even if you edit a blog post to make some corrections, the original version with the errors may still be online.
What you write and publish online is permanent
The expression, once on the Internet, always on the Internet, is reasonably accurate.
When you publish a piece of writing on your blog or you submit an article to another site, there is no way you can delete it and be sure it’s gone.
Yes, if you delete a blog post, it no longer appears on your blog.
But it may still appear on sites that have republished your post using RSS feeds or social media.
Another way is that services such as the Wayback Machine may capture your new post.
There are also millions of web scrapers that gather mountains of Internet data.
Scapers often copy and republish your content, so you can’t delete any of this copied content.
In an earlier article, I wrote about how to unpublish a book but that it’s impossible to delete a book.
The truth is that when you publish anything online, your writing could well be there forever.
It’s one good reason to take extra care and ensure that what you publish is high-quality and error-free.
Is everything saved on the Internet?
No. Lots of sites, services, and businesses vanish, and the data from these often disappear over time.
But you can’t be sure that is true in all cases.
I closed a business over 25 years ago, yet the site remains accessible on the Wayback Machine Internet Archive.
Even though I shut down this site all those years ago, it remains online, and the links still work.
I could even download the whole site in HTML and recreate it if I wanted to.
When you publish your writing online, the chances are that it will still be there years later.
Here is an article I published on Google in 2009. Yes, the images no longer exist, but the article is complete.
I closed down this site on Google Blogger so many years ago.
But I could find almost all of the articles I wrote and published.
And these archives of my articles are not static.
Anyone can download each article using the Save Page As function from a browser.
With a bit of technical ability, it’s also possible to download the complete archive or the entire site code.
How to remove a website from the Wayback Machine
If you want to remove your website data from the Internet Archive – Wayback Machine, it’s not easy.
There are four steps you need to take.
1. Edit your website’s robots.txt to block the Internet Archive.
2. Write a DMCA takedown notice.
3. Find proof of your ownership of your website domain.
4. Send your information in an email to the Internet Archive.
Yes, it’s quite a process and time-consuming.
For old sites like my examples above, it’s probably difficult or impossible to find documents to prove ownership.
However, if you need more information about the steps above, you can read this article for detailed instructions.
Scrapers can copy and publish your writing online
Website content scraping is more widespread now than you might imagine.
For some, it’s so much easier and quicker to scrape and copy than to write new and original content for a site.
I know this for a fact because my articles are scaped and copied so frequently that it’s impossible to stop.
I’ll give you an example.
Here’s a copy of an article I published in April 2019. The text is unchanged, and the site even uses my featured header image.
The problem is that this copied article ranks on Google Search and competes with my original article.
Another problem is that I have updated the article a few times, but the copied article is the original version.
But there’s nothing I can do other than ask the site owner to remove the content. I tried, but with no success.
Even if I deleted this article from my site, it would remain on the scraper’s site.
I also did a quick Google Image search, and you can see how many of my articles have been scaped and copied.
I cropped the results in the image above, but there were more than 100 images, all leading to the scraper’s site.
The examples above are from one scraping site only, but there are lots and lots of other sites scraping, copying, and publishing my articles every day.
Copying like this is one of the major reasons why you can never completely delete your writing.
Publish your writing online, but know it’s forever
Many new writers don’t realize that what they write and publish will be on the Internet for a very long time.
It makes no difference if it’s a book, an ebook, an article, a blog post, a social media post, or a site submission.
Every time you publish anything online, it’s data. And the Internet saves its data.
Yes, you can delete content from your blog, computer, phone, or social media accounts.
But that doesn’t mean that it will disappear from the Internet.
Quora has a long thread about trying to delete content from the Internet permanently.
Although there are a lot of different opinions, the consensus is that you should assume you can’t.
Yes, it might all sound a little like 1984.
But all you can do is know and understand what happens when you publish your writing online.
It certainly shouldn’t stop you, but it is a good reminder that you need to take extra care with what you publish.
Scrapers can copy and publish your new article in less than a few minutes, errors and all.
Even though it’s copying and seemingly unethical, you don’t want to see your writing published with errors and mistakes.
If you revisit your new article after a few days and make some corrections, the Internet Archive may already have a snapshot of your blog. Then your errors are there forever.
These are just a couple of reasons why you should be meticulous with your grammar and spell checking and carefully proofread before you publish a new text.
Yes, it’s quick and easy to hit the publish button. But it’s not quite so easy to unpublish and delete.
Related reading: How To Publish Writing Anonymously To Hide Your Name