From the client perspective, removing negative content is the ideal solution, but this is only applicable in specific situations. There are essentially two ways of removing content from the internet. The first is to contact the person or organisation hosting the content and ask that it be removed or updated. The second is to work with Google to get it deindexed. In this case, the content would still be accessible to someone with the link, but it would not appear on a search result page.
Removal is difficult, time consuming and costly, and it’s rarely worth the trouble unless there’s a sound legal basis behind the request. It might be possible to convince a friend to remove an unflattering picture or a post that’s causing you problems, but when it comes to customer comments or reviews this is rarely advisable since it will draw more attention to the post and make it look like you have something to hide.
Removing news articles is even more difficult since these organisations take pride in the accuracy of their writers and the confidentiality of their sources. If you challenge an opinion piece, the first reaction will be to invoke the right to free speech. You may be able to get an article corrected or updated if the facts are wrong or irrelevant in the light of later events, but you will need to prove this convincingly. Some organisations may also update the HTML code so the article is no longer indexed. However, this depends on internal policy decisions from the company so there is no guarantee.
Reasons to Request Removal
Removal might be the right choice if there is a valid reason for the request. These are some of the circumstances that might make a legal case for removal.
- Copyright Violation
- False or Defamatory Information in the Article
- Inflammatory Remarks in the Comment Section
- Illegal Profit from Your Name or Personal Likeness
- Illegal Publication of Personal Data (Financial Information, Social Security Number etc.)
- Publication of Information About a Minor
Even if you think one of these reasons is applicable, you will still need to prove your case. Legal battles can be costly and will likely draw even more attention to the issue. Different laws may be applicable depending on where the material is published or hosted, so it’s important to get professional help. If the case is lost, clients will find that the negative content becomes even more damaging and difficult to counteract than it was before, so removal can sometimes lead to even more reputation issues.
When removal is not possible or appropriate, ReputationDefender works with clients to supress negative content so it no longer appears on the first page of a Google search. Building positive reputation through news stories and flattering reviews is usually a more effective way of mending a client’s reputation than fighting a long battle for removal.
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