How to remove bad information from the internet
The most common question we get asked is how to remove bad information from the internet. You can remove Google results through:
- Legal action
Removing Results from Google
The first option that would appeal to most people is removing results from Google. There are several ways to remove search results from Google. Depending on your case, it might be as simple as submitting the URL to Google, or going to court to obtain a court order.
FIRST, contact the webmaster
If the information is on a website you don’t own, first ask the webmaster to remove the information. If the webmaster removes or blocks the page from indexing, you can submit a removal request to Google based on removed or outdated content. If the bad information is removed or changed, you can tell Google that the information no longer exists or is outdated, and it the page will be de-indexed.
It is always better to ask the webmaster to remove the content first. Because if you get Google to remove the search result, but the page still exists, it can still be found through the website, social media, or other search engines.
It could be that the bad information on the internet is published by someone who is out to damage your reputation. In that case, it is better to Google directly. Picking a fight may only cause more scrutiny and online attacks.
Ask Google to remove bad information from the internet
To remove personal results from Google is hard, and to be honest – often impossible. At least for USA residents. In the US, Google is immune from liability for defamation and libel by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Because of this, Google is not obliged to remove the result from their search engine, even if you have a court order.
However, if you are from a common law country such as Australia, Canada, or the UK, Google might very well remove bad information from the internet. Due to different defamation laws for these countries, it is much easier to get Google to remove the negative search result.
We have achieved removal for many of our clients and are happy to help. If you wonder if your result can be removed, let us know in what country you are based, and the negative search result URL. We will analyze – free of charge – and let you know if we will be able to remove it or not. We always do this free analysis first because we don’t like money if we know beforehand that we won’t be able to get it removed.
Google content removal policy
Even though Google doesn’t remove results easily, there are some types of information that Google will remove, also for USA residents.
Google’s Removal Policy states that Google will remove:
- National identification numbers like Tax Identification Number, Social Security Number, Resident Identity Card, Resident Registration Number, etc.
- Bank account details
- Credit card details
- Images of signatures
- Nude or sexual images that are published without your consent
Information Google usually doesn’t remove:
- Date of birth
- Telephone numbers
Right to be Forgotten in Europe
“If, following a search made on the basis of a person’s name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly.”
According to the Right to be Forgotten, Google has to remove the search result when the information in question is:
- Violating someone’s privacy,
- False, defaming, or
- Not benefiting anyone else.
The US, Canada, and Australia, don’t enforce the Right to be Forgotten.
Remove bad information from the internet by suppressing the results
In most cases, it is cheaper and easier to suppress negative search results than have them removed.
Suppressing search results is a lengthy process. If anyone tells you otherwise, run. That person is either lying to get you to pay, or uses black-hat SEO techniques, resulting in penalties and creating bigger problems on the long run.
When suppressing bad information in search results, we convince Google that the positive or neutral information is more relevant than the negative search results. By doing so, Google will elevate the favored results and lower the negative search results. This process requires ongoing work and takes time. Instead of a timeframe of weeks, you’re safer of thinking in timeframes of months – even though we have had cases with great results within a few weeks – but this is far from standard.
You can also try to do this yourself by publishing and promoting new information on Google. Over time Google might elevate your material above the bad results, causing the bad results to be pushed down to page 2 or further.
Even if you don’t have any bad information in your search results yet, we recommend building a buffer to protect you from new or further attacks. As stated earlier, this is a time-consuming process and needs constant attention.
Removal of Google Results through Legal action
The third option is legal action. To remove bad information from the internet, the cheapest method is to go for injunctive alleviation on search engines as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. With a court order search engines might remove the undesirable results from their search engines and indexes. However, recently Google has dishonored more and more court orders. They get away with this due to the immunity provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Alternatively, you can file a claim for monetary damages, but this will be a more costly option. You have to sue the author of the post and prove in court that the published information is false. If you are don’t know who the author is, our cyber investigators can help you identify the person responsible, even when they hide behind VPN or ProtonMail.