Published in News

The Internet is disappearing

by on22 May 2024

Pew, pew, pew

A recent study by Pew Research has found that the internet is vanishing, as web pages and online content are lost.

The internet is commonly perceived as a repository where content is preserved indefinitely. However, a substantial portion of it is being lost as pages are either deleted or relocated, as per new research findings.

For example, 38 per cent of the web pages present in 2013 have now vanished. Even pages created more recently are disappearing: 8 per cent of the pages that were available in 2023 are now inaccessible.

Those pages typically vanish when they are either deleted or moved. This phenomenon occurs on operational websites, as reported by Pew, rather than when entire websites cease to exist.

This trend is resulting in the loss of a considerable amount of news and vital reference material. Approximately 23 per cent of news pages contain at least one broken link, and 21 per cent of government websites – and 54 per cent of Wikipedia pages have a reference link that no longer functions.

A similar pattern is observed on social media platforms. One-fifth of tweets are removed from the site within months of their posting.

The study was conducted by collecting random samples of nearly a million web pages from Common Crawl, a service that archives segments of the internet. The researchers then examined whether those pages remained accessible between 2013 and 2023.

The investigation revealed that 25 per cent of all pages gathered between 2013 and 2023 were no longer accessible. Among these, 16 per cent of pages were from websites that are still operational, while nine per cent were from websites that have since been discontinued.

Last modified on 22 May 2024
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