The Fall of CNET

It's hard to imagine a website that has endured as long as CNET. One of the big, early websites of the mid-90s internet is still around today. CNET has been in the game of tech news reporting since its inception and been a notable landing place for not only news but product reviews. But it's been a company finding itself looking to make money and stand out. And part of that is doing the unthinkable: deleting articles. Benj Edwards at Ars Technica has more.

The deletion process began with small batches of articles and dramatically increased in the second half of July, leading to the removal of thousands of articles in recent weeks. Although CNET confirmed the culling of stories to Gizmodo, the exact number of deleted articles has not been disclosed.


One theory of improving page rank involves a practice called "content pruning." Gizmodo obtained an internal memo from CNET which states that removing old URLs “sends a signal to Google that says CNET is fresh, relevant and worthy of being placed higher than our competitors in search results." However, before deleting an article, CNET reportedly maintains a local copy, sends the story to The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, and notifies any currently employed authors that might be affected at least 10 days in advance.

Ars Technica

It is crazy to think a website that goes back decades would take content that has made it into a big site would see that same work as a burden. I've already written at-length about how we cannot keep thinking the internet is permanent. The fact that CNET is simply up and deleting work from its archives in order to improve its Google search ranking is simply disgusting to me. For nearly 10+ years CNET stood for integrity and a reliable place to visit for tech info. They hit it big early on in podcasting with Buzz Out Loud, making Tom Merritt and Molly Wood superstars in the space. Then they were early to video and embracing content that made other reporters into recognizable figures too.

CNET's impact on the early internet and other important trends cannot be understated. Even from its beginnings with as a trustworthy place to download legitimate freeware and shareware, CNET has been a rock. Now with terribly-written AI-generated articles, layoffs, and removing of content, I don't even know what to think. CNET has fallen hard, looking for some way to make money in a difficult landscape, and have nobody to blame except itself.

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