Nearly 1-in-10 Webpages Disappear in a Year

John Lister's picture

More than a third of webpages have disappeared in the past 10 years according to a new study. Eight percent of pages that existed last year have already gone.

The figures come from the Pew Research Center, exploring what it calls "digital decay" and other sources have called "link rot". (Source:

Pew's researchers looked at a random selection of URLs which were active at various points over the past 10 years. On average, a quarter have now gone. Naturally there's a downward trend, with 38 percent of pages active in 2013 now unavailable. Even with pages active as recently as 2020, 27 percent are gone.

Across the 10 year period, the 25 percent missing rate was made up of 16 percent of pages that had been deleted from still-active sites, and 9 percent of pages being on sites that have gone entirely.

Government and News Sites Affected

They also broke the figures down for specific types of site with some surprising results. More than 20 percent of US government pages included at least one link that no longer works. That's actually slightly below the proportion of news site pages with a dead link.

Meanwhile more than 80 percent of Wikipedia pages include at least one reference link that points to an external page that no longer exists.

Tweets Have Short Life

The researchers were only able to access data on a short-term view for Twitter, now known as X. They found that only 82 percent of tweets (posts) remained available three months after posting. That left 7 percent that were either deleted or removed from public view by the user and 11 percent that disappeared because the user's account was deleted.

Both the researchers and experts who've commented on the findings noted they bring several possible problems. For ordinary users, it often becomes difficult to verify information based on a linked credible source because they are no longer able to follow the link to the original content.

For website operators, inbound links becoming invalid (for example because a page has been deleted) could affect search engine rankings. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Were you surprised by these statistics? Do you regularly encounter links to pages that no longer exist? Is this a problem for the web and its users?

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Focused100's picture

I find broken links and deleted pages all the time.
Atleast once a week a page doesn't load properly.
Even bookmarked pages sometimes don't load

Chief's picture

Web pages disappearing is nothing to be surprised about.
Many are temporary by design.
People slap stuff up in our throwaway society and move on.

The internet is no different.
When you have the attention span of a gnat, why expect the poster to have a longer attention span?

So many websites and posts are so filled with inaccuracies, irrelevancies and wannabies, my general feeling is good-bye and good riddance!

doulosg's picture

Where is the expectation that the Internet would provide permanency? I've built a lot of web pages over the decades with no intention or expectation that they would be permanent. Other media we look for as permanent - newspapers of record, films, books, music - are generally permanent through duplication rather than archival. Archived web pages used to be presented in Google search results, and I periodically see references to sites called something like "the way back machine." Yes, broken links can be a problem, but often those are a result of pages moving through reorganization of a web site, or correction of typographical errors. The bigger problems in my mind is those site owners typically do not provide any means to report the broken links. Another major failing is the total lack of date references in most pages.