Who Watches the Watchmen: Exploring Complaints on the Web
MetadataShow full item record
Under increasing scrutiny, many web companies now offer bespoke mechanisms allowing any third party to file complaints (e.g., requesting the de-listing of a URL from a search engine). While this self-regulation might be a valuable web governance tool, it places huge responsibility within the hands of these organisations that demands close examination. We present the first large-scale study of web complaints (over 1 billion URLs). We find a range of complainants, largely focused on copyright enforcement. Whereas the majority of organisations are occasional users of the complaint system, we find a number of bulk senders specialised in targeting specific types of domain. We identify a series of trends and patterns amongst both the domains and complainants. By inspecting the availability of the domains, we also observe that a sizeable portion go offline shortly after complaints are generated. This paper sheds critical light on how complaints are issued, who they pertain to and which domains go offline after complaints are issued.