What would happen if you lost all of your family’s photos, tomorrow? Millions of Americans trust the cloud to save all of their family moments. But, what if one day, they vanished? In 2006, Pew reported that 57% of teens create their content. Like a lot of people my age, I was in a band. We played and recorded music which we then uploaded to Myspace. At the time, it was the most popular social networking website around. It had overtaken Friendster, which had previously caught up to makeoutclub.com, a site for “…for indierockers, hardcore kids, record collectors, artists, bloggers, and hopeless romantics.”*. It was inconceivable that there could be another social-networking site that would overtake it. While there must be a CD of that music somewhere in my parent’s house, it has completely disappeared from the internet. That’s basically what link rot is.
A 2014 Harvard Law School study looks at the legal implications of Internet link decay, and finds reasons for alarm. The authors, Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert and Lawrence Lessig, determined that approximately 50% of the URLs in U.S. Supreme Court opinions no longer link to the original information.