If a citizen of EU would request all his questions and answers to be deleted from all Stack Exchange sites, would that request be carried out?

I'm not just talking about account deletion, where questions and answers by the user are being anonymized. I'm talking about the case where the user demands all his questions and answered be deleted.

Would Stack Exchange be doing something illegal if they refused the request?

  • 2
    Worth noting that the right to be forgotten has been turned into right to erasure: 1essexcourt.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/the-right-to-be-forgotten
    – rene
    Mar 18, 2018 at 12:01
  • 6
    Bit of a request. If we're going to play armchair lawyer, could we please have a link to the laws or statutes in question? Mar 18, 2018 at 14:16
  • 13
    It seems the anonymization of content is sufficient. If external links link you as a person to the anonymized content here, that would be something to pick up with the site in question. The right to be forgotten also does not seem to include the right to have the full content removed, but rather to have any identifiable parts removed.
    – Bart
    Mar 18, 2018 at 14:42
  • in the unlikely case that you suppose to use something like this to circumvent some kind of posting block, it is worth keeping in mind that anti-recidivism-system keeps memory of prior poor content even in the case of account deletion. As they say system follows various legal requirements "to the extent practicable" (which is a good thing if you think of it)
    – gnat
    Mar 18, 2018 at 15:01
  • 3
    @gnat let's assume good faith here. There is nothing in the OP's profile that suggest post block evading is the motivation here. Suggesting that is a bit unfair until a mod confirms this context applies here. Let's not invent all kind of accusations.
    – rene
    Mar 18, 2018 at 15:11
  • The content is all indexed by google, SO don’t block robot crawling, your request carried or not don’t change that fact, as such your answer or question already fall in the public domain. You know that maybe someone quoted you on a blog post that link to an answer?
    – yagmoth555
    Mar 18, 2018 at 17:02
  • 2
    While that is all true @yagmoth555 that is really not the point of the question. Legislation in the EU give european citizens the right to ask a data-collector to remove records with PII from their system upon request. So this question tries to establish if SE is a data-collector and if the jurisdiction of the EU applies to SE. If those are answered with yes SE does need to comply to such requests because not doing so might get them a fine. If data gets collected/crawled by others from SE pages is not something the EU lawyers cared about.
    – rene
    Mar 18, 2018 at 20:01
  • @rene The right to be forgotten "reflects the claim of an individual to have certain data deleted so that third persons can no longer trace them IMO anomization from SO cover that, while non SO site can still list the OP full name linking back to the anomitazed name. The real question is should SO blank the name of deleted user to prevent a trace back IMO, but at that point only a lawyer can answer.
    – yagmoth555
    Mar 18, 2018 at 21:18

1 Answer 1


No, that won't happen. According to the terms of service:

3. Subscriber Content

You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license. You grant Stack Exchange the perpetual and irrevocable right and license to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute, modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content

The new General Data Protection Regulation law deals with personal data, not with questions and answers. If there's any personal data in a question or answer, it will probably be edited out if you ask (nicely); it can even be redacted so that there's no trace of it.

  • 2
    The wikipedia article does mention social network posts. I know this is not a social network but it doesn't look like it up-front rules out non-personal data that you posted consciously on random websites. I'm not a lawyer ...
    – rene
    Mar 18, 2018 at 12:13
  • 1
    neither is OP I suspect. Mar 18, 2018 at 12:22
  • Wikipedia is a great resource, if the article provides sources, take Wikipedia articles with a grain of salt until you can confirm their accuracy
    – Ramhound
    Mar 18, 2018 at 16:50
  • 1
    Related elsewhere on SE: is Wikipedia trustworthy? Mar 18, 2018 at 18:43
  • 4
    "it will probably be edited out if you ask (nicely)" I mean, you don't need to ask nicely. You can be a dick and we still have to respect the law and terms of license.
    – Jeremy
    Mar 18, 2018 at 19:06
  • Correct, I'm not a lawyer :-) Also, I do not have the intention of making such a request. My question was intended to get an idea of this kind of legislation on Stack Overflow and the related sites. As was mentioned by rene: since this law seem to affect social network posts, is SO considered a social network site? Also, the right to be forgotten is in effect since 2006, and is older than GDPR: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_be_forgotten Mar 19, 2018 at 8:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .