How to delete things from the internet: a guide to doing the impossible

Don’t you wish there was a delete button for search results?

You want to delete something from the Internet:  maybe it’s an article, a picture, a blog post, an account, or a video.  It’s not always easy, but it can be done.  We’ll tell you how.

We’ve spent years deleting people’s info from data broker websites with our product, DeleteMe, and we’ve learned a lot. Before we get to our 7 deletion tips, let start with some basic rules of the web.

Web Rule 1:  Walk before you run.  Deletion must be done from the original source before Google will notice.

In this guide, we’ll call the website that’s actually hosting the content you want removed–the original source–the publisher.  Blogs, newspapers, forums, Facebook…they’re all publishers.

Let’s say that someone wrote a really unflattering blog post about you and now it’s showing up in Google’s search results whenever someone searches for your name.  Naturally, you want it taken down from Google.  Here’s the important thing:  Google is not the source of that post; it’s merely letting that post be found more easily.  The post is actually hosted on the blog, which might be WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr, or another popular blogging site. Google does not have the file, nor can it delete the file.

To remove something from Google’s search results, you have to remove it from the original source first.  Once you take down a piece of content, Google and other search engines will naturally filter it out of search results.  However, there is a way to speed up that process:  see point 2 below.

Web Rule 2:  You’ll hit some red lights.  In most cases, websites don’t have any duty to remove anything.

Goodbye, data.

Most of the things that people want removed are things they voluntarily posted at an earlier time.  Under many websites’ Terms of Use, you lose rights in whatever you post as soon as you post it.  That’s why it’s absolutely key that you think before you post, because it could be on the Internet forever.

You also have to have a really good reason to force a website to remove content.  Looking bad in a picture or disliking a comment someone made on your Facebook wall isn’t enough.  We’ll get into these serious reasons later on in this guide. The good news:  even though sites don’t have to take content down, they may do it just to help you out.  Asking nicely can go a long way!

Web Rule 3:  Keep it up.  Persistence pays, so if you hit a wall, go around it.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is truer than ever when it comes to takedowns.  You’re going to have to speak up, speak often, and keep at it.  Eighty percent of whether an item is removed depends on how dedicated you’re willing to be.  You can’t take a lack of response for an answer.  You’re competing for the limited time of very busy people and companies. Without further ado, here are our 7 tips on how to get something deleted from the web.

1.  Find someone, or at least a department, to talk to

To actually remove an item, you’ll have to get in touch with someone who’s in charge of managing the particular website on which it appears.  If it’s you and it’s your account or website, even better.  Some sites have systems in place for requesting takedowns, but your odds are better if you speak to an actual human being.

Try to find a phone number for a website editor, webmaster, or writer at the publication.  In our experience, the best person to talk to is someone who’s tech-savvy enough–and has the authority– to remove content himself.  That way they can handle your request right when you ask, not go through a long chain of decision-makers who may forget about you.  The department that will take the longest to get back to you?  Legal.

Your goal is to talk to an actual human being. We cannot guarantee that human being will be this happy to hear from you, though.

You can usually get a number at the “contact us” link on the very bottom of most websites. If no contact information is listed, you can do a special search to see who registered the site.  This is called a “Who Is” search, and you can do it for free on Google.  Simply type “whois www.[the site you're looking up].com” in quotes, and you’ll get a result for the person who registered it.  If you wanted to do a Who Is search on us, for example, you’d type in “whois www.abine.com” into the search bar.  Who Is searches will provide a name, address, and phone number for an administrative contact at the site.  Note that the contact information may be anonymous if the site was registered through a proxy service.

If you can only find a general phone number for the front desk (this often happens with newspapers), tell the receptionist that you’d like to be connected to someone in charge of website content about a takedown request.  If you’re dealing with a big company with an automated phone menu, be persistent until you get another person on the line.

2.  If you can’t talk, email

If you can’t find a phone number, look for a personal email.  When you’re picking out a person to reach out to, follow our tips from point 1 above.  Even if you can’t find personal emails, most sites use a standard format for employee email, and you can guess at an email with a bit of work.  For example, we use the format “first name at Abine dot com.”  This website, Email Format, can help you guess by providing formats for many popular websites.

3.  Make your case, and make it well

There’s usually no legal reason to get an item taken down, so you’ll only succeed if you ask respectfully and eloquently.  Think of yourself like an attorney:  you have to represent yourself and make a compelling argument.  If they do remove the item, they’ll be doing it as a favor to you.

You have to make your case.

It’s a good idea to write out your request even if you’re planning on speaking with someone so you’ll have a roadmap to refer to.  Stick to the following tips in order:

  • Start by briefly stating who you are and your purpose for contacting them (e.g., “I’d like to talk to you about removing an item from your website”).
  • Thank them for their time, and verify that they are the correct person to speak to about takedown requests.  If they’re not, it’s a waste of both of your time to continue.  Ask them to put you in touch with the right person, and not just a redirected phone call, but a phone number, name, and email address for that person as well.
  • Provide a concise background about what you want removed and how it ended up online.
  • Here’s the most important part:  say why it’s important to you that this content be removed.  Humanize yourself and your situation, but try not to be too emotional or dramatic about it, even though it may be sensitive to you.  You want them to be able to relate to you, like you, and empathize with you.  A few good reasons:  the content may be untrue, harmful to your reputation, making it hard for you to get a job, and/or emotionally traumatic.
  • After you’ve presented your reasons, restate that you’d like them to remove it.  Then wait.  The ball is in their court now; do not speak until they give you an answer.
  • If they say no to a full deletion, offer alternatives.  If the publisher has a policy against unpublishing except in extraordinary circumstances, would they consider either (1) blocking the content from being indexed by search  by using robots.txt file, (2) removing or anonymizing your name, or (3) even adding a brief edit to include an update to clarify the situation or address whatever your concern is?
  • End by thanking them for their time and consideration regarding your situation.  Know that they are gracious to review it, and make sure they feel appreciated.  You should also offer to provide any additional information that may be helpful to them.
  • Check written requests for spelling and grammar mistakes.  These things matter.
  • If you do speak with someone, make sure that you take note of his or her name and keep an organized record of your communications in case you have to make repeated attempts.

And if one person turns you down, try someone else at the company.  Remember:  persistence pays.

4.  Delete things from Google Search with Google’s URL Removal Tool

You can ask Google to remove outdated search results.

If you ever see a link in Google that needs updating (in other words, you’ve removed or changed content on the publisher’s site, but Google’s search results still reflect the old content), you can use Google’s URL Removal Tool to fix it.

Note that you’ll need a Google account. Just hit the “New removal request” button, paste the link to the site that needs updating, and under “Reason,” select “The page has changed and Google’s cached version is out of date” from the drop-down menu.  Then follow the directions on the page and “enter a word that has been entirely removed from the live page but is still present in the cached version.”  Finally, submit your request.  Google will approve or deny it within about 48 hours.  You can also view pending, approved, and denied removal requests.

5.  If you can’t delete something bad, bury it with something good

In a perfect world, we’d be able to remove all the unfair, outdated, and negative search results about ourselves.  In reality, most content is here to stay except in special circumstances.  Remove what you can, but creating your own positive content to suppress the negative search results is a great way to control your image and improve your search results. Note that if you’re looking to disappear from the web, this isn’t the solution for you. You’ll be creating more content about you, but you’ll be tipping the balance from negative to positive.

You can bury negative things in search results.

Create and manage public profiles for yourself

Certain sites consistently appear high in the search results.  By simply creating a profile on them with your name and a bit of identifying information, you can suppress negative results.  Make sure that you set your privacy settings to be publicly viewed, and only post content that you’re absolutely sure you won’t regret later.  Here’s a list of sites to use:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/

Formspring.me: http://www.formspring.me/

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/

About.Me: https://about.me/

Google: https://profiles.google.com/

Blogger: http://blogger.com

Tumblr: http://tumblr.com

Photobucket: http://www.photobucket.com/

Quora: http://www.quora.com/

StumbleUpon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/

Reddit: http://www.reddit.com

Digg: http://www.digg.com

Plixi: http://www.plixi.com

Yahoo Pulse: http://pulse.yahoo.com/

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/

You can also use your real name to register on news websites and comment on articles, although these types of posts don’t tend to rank as highly as those on the sites listed above.

Link Amongst your Various Sites

One of the ways that Google determines a site’s rank in search results is by analyzing how many times other sites link to it.  You can get your content to rise by linking it to itself. For example, create a twitter account, connect that to your formspring account, connect both of those to your Facebook page, and link to all of them on your Blogger page. Of course, the more you use your accounts and interact with other people, the more likely they are to link to your content, which drives your results even higher.

Take back negative keywords

If a search for your name is generally positive, but including a particular keyword brings up negative or unwanted results, try to reclaim that term.  Let’s say that a search for “John Doe” is positive, but “John Doe”+ “State College” brings up negative results.  John Doe should start including the phrase “State College” in his positive content creation in order to associate it with his good reputation.

6.  Report legal violations to the search engines

If you think that any of the content you want removed is violating any law (copyright infringement is a common one), then visit this link, select “Web Search,” and proceed from there. Generally, Google and other websites will remove content if it falls into any of the following categories:

- copyright or trademark infringement – threats of violence against another person – child pornography – obscenity – child exploitation – spam – impersonation or misuse of another’s identity – court-ordered removal – malware/viruses – confidential information (including social security number, bank account number, and credit card number) – cyberbullying – otherwise illegal material

7.  If something is truly defamatory, get a lawyer

Sorry.  We tried to avoid having it come to lawyers, but unfortunately there’s a point when you have to call in the legal team.

If the content you want removed is something negative that someone said about you or your business, you usually cannot remove this type of item without legal documentation supporting your claims.  Under the current state of internet law, hosting companies and websites are under no legal obligation to remove allegedly defamatory content without a court’s determination that the content is actually untrue and harmful to you.

And just because someone says something you don’t like doesn’t make that statement defamatory.  Defamation is a defined legal term with a very specific meaning. It’s also balanced against free speech rights.  If you got food poisoning at a restaurant, you have the right to post a bad review of that restaurant on Yelp.  The owner may not like it, but you can say it if it’s true, and the public has an interest in knowing about a place that may make them sick.  That bad review is not defamatory.  However, if you posted that the restaurant owner is a pedophile just to get back at him for spending the night vomiting, that most likely is defamatory.

Defamation requires that four elements be met:  (1) there’s a false statement of fact, not opinion; (2) that’s publicly published to at least one other person; (3) if the defamatory matter is of public concern, there’s fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and (4) there must be damage to the talked-about person’s reputation.  For celebrities and public figures, there’s an additional requirement that the statement be maliciously untrue–you knew it was false, but you said it with bad and hurtful intentions.

The legal elements of defamation.

It’s frustrating that you need a court order declaring something as defamatory, but without that rule, it’d be impossible for websites and hosting companies to handle thousands of defamation claims.  If you look at Blogger’s Terms of Use and Content Policy, for example, you’ll see that they do not list defamation as a violation.  Furthermore, Google states that they “do not remove allegedly defamatory content from www.google.com or any other U.S. dot com domains.”

So if the claims (1) are presented as facts and not opinions, (2) are actually false (and you can prove it), and (3) have caused actual, provable damage to your reputation, you may want to speak with a First Amendment attorney, especially one who specializes in Internet defamation.

We hope this information was helpful to you, and best of luck on your quest to delete!




136 comments shared on this article:

  • Nice post! Thank you for providing great info. I like forward to your future posts. Keep up great writing.

  • Robert says:

    Great info on reputation management, which is huge these days. There are a few things I wish weren’t out there about me. Some of them I created, which was not smart.

  • damien auksorius says:

    please phone me im interested in the delete me files my name is damien auksorius

    • John Doe says:

      If you really want to remove your information online, I would start by not putting in your full name.

      • Sarah Downey says:

        Good advice from, appropriately, John Doe :)

        • Carla Greene says:

          Hello Sarah, I have been researching and reading your link and I find it very helpful. Before I get too detailed I hope to hear from you via email. It has to do with 3 newspapers that found it news worthy to print my name and street name, both of which are in my name and searchable. I had an arrest over a yr. ago but the local newspaper wont take the story out nor even remove my name or street name. Carla Greene is not my real name. I am in the midst of contacting the owner of the paper but don’t want this senior editor to seek revenge on me. Please help and I will give more info via email. Thanks!
          PS. I want to find more people that are going thru what Im going thru. BTW, my case was dismissed and a whole bunch of nitemarish obstacles follow…
          Thanks! Carla G.

  • amy brown says:

    This is very much appreciated except when I tried to sign up for the Blog info – your site refused my email address saying it is not a good address – FALSE – this is a paid email from Canada that I use to avoid the incredibly irritating snoops – I have nothing to hide but I will be damned if I will willingly allow some creep to invade my personal life without my permission and worse – make money off it – that is akin to stealing DNA from people and then putting a patent on it which has already happened!

    • Sarah Downey says:

      Hmm, that’s not supposed to happen! That must be a problem with WordPress. For now, you can subscribe to receive blog updates with the RSS feed, but we’ll look into whatever’s blocking your email address from being accepted. Thanks for letting us know, and we’re glad you like the blog.

  • jones says:

    some one updated some wrong information about me and i am trying to delete this words but i am not able to do this please help me,,,

  • John says:

    Thank you for the great article.

    I have a question, I used the Google’s URL Removal Tool to prevent outdated content from showing up on Google search. Do I have to repeat the same procedure for every other search engines like Yahoo or are they connected?

    John

  • Someone has posted alot of bad stuff about the village i am from and put my name under the blog to try and get me into trouble am up for a laugh but i dont want people thinking that it was me that wrote it theres no email address or that on the site a can send a complaint to

  • RL says:

    But how do I use Google’s website removal tool if I do not have access to the cache site?…When I type in the address of the cache site, I just get the message that says the site has moved to a different address–which I have…I need access to the cache site to figure out which word to put into Google’s site removal tool, don’t I?

  • angelfreeze says:

    i want to know, when i write something on google something comes down like let say i write in google search fr and then something pops down tht says like friv, frank ocean and other stuff
    i dont want that to pop up how do i delete that?

  • Jesse says:

    QUESTION…. So if I want to delete a worpress blog i created from google I can simply delete it from within wordpress and then it will be removed soon from google?

  • Doddi says:

    This was very useful information. Thanks for the research done beforehand. I can definitely use this and will link to your site when I write a blogpost about this. Sincerely, Doddi

  • You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation however I find this topic to be really one thing which I feel I would by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very vast for me. I am taking a look ahead for your subsequent put up, I’ll try to get the grasp of it!

  • Bas says:

    I tried to get the phone number or Email or address.I could not get them.I want some comments
    about me removed.I tried several hours trying to track them down;but I am not sucessful.
    Please help me.

  • ABI says:

    Hi there

    So pleased I’ve come across your article!

    I would very much like to seek private advise if at all possible?

    Thanks

  • McFly000 says:

    Hi there,

    Very good and interessting article.

    I would like to get in touch to ask for a specific case, since im not sure how to deal with it.

    Thank

  • Anton says:

    Do you have any means to remove or disrupt a link a blogger site that was set up to smear just one person and then the comments of others are blocked so that nobody can correct or challenge information?

    • johnny doe says:

      Anton, I was wondering if you had any luck with removing the blog you were mentioned. Im currently in a similar situation and I’m trying to see if I have any recourse. Unfortunately the blogger in question is asking for a “fee” to remove the potentially defaming information.

      • Didi says:

        I’m actually in the same situation. I gave an opinion on a book and it wasn’t the opinion this woman would have wanted so she’s gone on her blog and written a malicious completely untrue article that is a plan to smear me. I’ve tried to challenge and correct the unfounded claims but she’s refused to publish my response thereby giving a very one sided view of events. For someone who claims to be a feminist, bisexual atheist activist, I am puzzled that she’s so opposed to an open and balanced due process of establishing facts. I have written to both the webmaster as well as the webhost and it seems that I would have to resort to the last option which is a legal process.

  • Marina says:

    Thanks, looking for this. It is true that sometimes we write things that later we do not want to continue appearing. Although it seems a complex process … My English is not very good (I am Spanish) Thanks!

  • chris says:

    Is there any way of removing news articles from search engines with your service?

    • Sarah Downey says:

      Not with our service, which is why I wrote this post on how to do it yourself. We offered that type of service in the past, but DeleteMe is focused on removing subscribers’ information from data broker websites only.

  • I would like to delete my old blogger account that I created years ago when I was a kid. Please help me, I don’t remember my username and m y password.

    • Sarah Downey says:

      There’s nothing we at Abine can do to reset your Blogger account. You’d have to contact Google support, but unfortunately they’re notoriously hard to get in touch with. You’re probably out of luck. I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear, but in my experience, old Blogger accounts are pretty much indestructible when you don’t know your login info.

  • how to eliminate the 99.999% of unrelated results google shows in place of related results? give relevant answer to this exact question.

  • Yoshi says:

    So whats the simple way haha?

  • Terry says:

    I have a arrest record that started showing up as a pdf when my full name is searched on google It was from 2006. How can I if I can get this to stop showing up. Thank you for any help!

    Terry

  • Cassandra says:

    It’s my new number an its bad reviews an nasty things on my page I want it off now I’m tired of this number being harrassed I have no clue an who this person is

  • Hanah says:

    Hi, I’m wondering if there is really a software that could trace our photo anywhere on the web and then we delete them without asking to whom posted it.

  • E.D Gasçon says:

    Supposedly you can request that online databases permanently remove or correct the information you have identified as inaccurate. Surprisingly, you have to provide them with more information just to have yours removed and even after all that, your data repeatedly pops back up on these sites…

    • Sarah Downey says:

      It’s not a good situation. There’s an imbalance of power that favors the data brokers here: it’s legal for them to post and sell your info, and they don’t have to offer any opt-out. If they do mention an opt-out in their Terms, however, they’re obligated to honor it or they risk being fined by the FTC. Some of the sites, like Intelius, also state that they won’t use the information you send them in an opt-out for any other purposes (i.e., repopulating their databases). It’s definitely uncomfortable sending these sites–the ones you DON’T want having your information–more of your information, just so that they’ll take it down. But the alternative option is to do nothing, and that leaves your info exposed on hundreds of sites.

      We really need a 1-stop opt-out website for these data brokers (like the Do Not Call Registry, but online).

  • Sarah, Great advice even a year later! As criminal defense attorney’s we help people remove arrest records through a process under Florida law known as an expungement. The law helps erase the public record but does not help in the removal of arrest records from private companies. Approaching some of those private companies does provide good results, but what happens if you can’t get the record removed? I am talking more in regards to mug shot photos. Does your advice above work for images/photos as well to push down the negative mug shot photos? Thanks, Ryan

  • Kirk says:

    I recently lost my job because one of my supervisors did a search on me and found a public hearing record that I was involved in 10 years ago, that is not very favorable about me. I also have been turned down from three jobs because this public record on me keeps showing up. When I am involved in getting a new position and I don’t get the job offer this is usually the reason that is given. Is there a way to get a public record removed because it is affecting my ability to find a job?
    Thanks for you help!

  • carla greene says:

    I was also thinking that the people that have the same issue or complaint about a newspaper that wont edit or remove the arrest of an individual ban together and complain about the exposure the paper is doing. It is hurtful and intrusive! I have so much to share with you and I commend the person that got his information edited out of their paper. I have no such luck!

  • sami says:

    While random search I typed my name on Google search and the first pic was mine. I was shocked and exposed. According to the picture, it was uploaded from picasa and I am not aware of the account details at all (User ID and password).
    I mailed the Picasa Webmaster and requested Google to remove the image. Its been 2 days now, but no response. I’m really worried, cause this will bring too many problems for me. I’m in desperate need to remove the image.
    Should I mail them again with the format you suggested above? Please help me. I’m really worried.

    • Sarah Downey says:

      So someone else besides you uploaded this picture of you? Or was it you? And is there anything potentially illegal about the photo (like it’s your copyright, meaning you took it)? Unfortunately Google doesn’t have to do anything here, and they get hundreds of thousands of these requests every day, so the only way you can get it prioritized is if there’s something potentially illegal about it.

      • sami says:

        I don’t remember uploading the picture, let alone remembering the ID through which I uploaded it through. Nor do I remember sharing my picture with anyone. I HAVE to get that picture down or else I’m in big time trouble. Can I call the ‘contact me’ of picasa? Can they help?

    • RIS says:

      hi hello everybady my name is R1 the RIS nick name ya okay
      sami while you shocked about your image at google its ok cool but every bady child small child are shocked in google the bad sexy image ya ya kids all searching some website like facebook are something one second in google some bad sexy image is coming ya the kids all that why watching the bad videos i think ya be carefull you ya baby i to shocked ya it all about ours life things thank q by ris

  • Carla Greene says:

    Hello Sarah, I posted an issue im having with a particular newspaper April 25th but not sure if you got it?

  • Laura Swash says:

    This is a website started by two teachers 7 years ago, about their experiences in Dar es Salaam at a school where I was the head teacher. For 7 years, a Google search on my name comes up with Laura Swash – History of a Failure, which is not good for either my ego nor my independent education business. I do not think there is anything defamatory on the site, but I have two questions:
    1. Is there any way that I can stop it coming at the top of the Google search?
    2. Scanned letters from me to the teachers have been included on the site, and my signature is clearly visible on them. Are they allowed to publish my signature online?
    Thank you
    Laura Swash

  • Steve says:

    HI, I like the posts, what are you’re views and thoughts about hiring a “reputation specialist” / company to have information removed for you. Pros, Cons? Your thoughts please and thank you.

    • Sarah Downey says:

      Hey there-

      It depends on your goals. If you have a specific item you want removed, you’re better off getting a lawyer. Reputation specialists don’t usually delete things; they hide them. Lawyers can actually get things removed if certain legal requirements apply. If you don’t have a lot of time and just want the peace of mind knowing that someone is out there monitoring your online presence and creating positive content to make you look good, then you might want to look into reputation specialists. They’re basically experts in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A lot of what they do can be done yourself for free, but the major thing you gain with them is your time in exchange for their expertise: they do the work. Also keep in mind that there’s a huge price range for online reputation management (ORM) services. BrandYourself.com is inexpensive and has a lot of free DIY elements whereas Reputation.com’s high-end services cost thousands of dollars a year, and there are dozens of ORM services in between. Definitely do your homework on any service you plan to use–some are legitimate and helpful, but others are scammy. My advice is to do what you can on your own without paying, see what your results are, and revisit your options then. Good luck!

  • Carol says:

    Hello Sarah, I’m sure every parent thinks their child is great and too long an explanation of why anyone would bother to post anything negative about a great girl . My daughter is 21 just graduated college with honors and there are absolutely no curse words published , no scandalous pictures published or written by her. For some reason a girl from her high school she hasn’t seen in years and never even ran around with her posted on a really nasty site a picture currently and one from 5 years ago and acts like she’s physically changed a lot (basically looks older but same girl).. But goes on saying diseases and slutty. It really is a joke that someone can post things like that . My daughter said she could care less that anyone who knows her know none of it true .. But it’s the timing of course worked hard to graduate early and 3.7 GPA and worried a future employer maybe turned off . It seems crazy to hire a lawyer to dispute .. Every bit is easily disproven …but I talked a reputation removal company and they say the website owner loves to be threatened to be sued. It gives him more to post about the people asking and he makes a mockery of them and gets viewers to vote whether to remove or not . So the more u ask politely the more he mocks . Plz tell me if we should hire a lawyer or it’s going to fall on deaf ears … The whole concept of paying to remove just seems evil . We are blessed that she’s confident in herself and this won’t hurt her with anyone who knows her .. It just seems so harmful if she were 15 and this were done to her . We have seen suicides over cyber bullying .. It’s crazy there are harmful sites created and making money by putting up terrible lies and wanting money to remove .. Thanks for your advice

    • Sarah Downey says:

      Hi Carol-

      Ugh, that’s awful. It sounds like the girl posted that stuff about your daughter on a site that exists to defame other people. There are a lot of them out there; some of them are called “revenge porn” sites. Obviously the content there tends to be sexual, but it doesn’t have to be. The whole goal of these sites is to offer a place where people can–usually anonymously–trash other people. One well-known person behind several of these sites is Hunter Moore if you want to learn more about the types of people you’re dealing with.

      I can’t really tell from your comment whether the site owner is trying to get you to pay him to remove the content, or if the payment you’re talking about would go to the reputation company. In any case, it seems like the content of the posts mightbe defamatory because it mentions diseases and promiscuity. Those are classic elements of defamatory speech, especially the mention of diseases. It’s probably worth talking to a lawyer first, but it’s also possible that the person running the site won’t respond to the usual legal takedown letter and will let it progress further…maybe not all the way to court, but long enough that it’ll rack up your expenses. These are all things you need to weigh as you consider what to do here.

      Another thing to consider is whether you can use copyright to your advantage. If your daughter took one or both of the pictures, the copyright in them belongs to her. The other girl wouldn’t have the right to post them publicly. Again, this is something a lawyer can look into, but it just gives you another potential avenue for removal.

      See if you can find a lawyer who has experience in Internet law, defamation, and copyright/intellectual property who will hear your story and give you a consultation. Some lawyers will take a case they think is strong on a contingent fee basis, meaning you don’t pay them unless they win (and then they take about 1/3 of your award).

      Good luck. You’re right that cyberbullying like this is vicious, and it’s becoming really easy to do. Your daughter is lucky to have someone like you who’s there for her and cares about her in times like these.

  • Dan says:

    I was looking for a job. I sent my resume to a guy connected in the field and he posted the my resume on his site. The resume included my email address. Now when I search using my email address my entire resume with information I do not want public shows up. I have asked him to delete it from his site. He says he has lost his ftp site information and cannot delete the post. I have asked him to go to his provider to get the information but he has not responded.

  • Shelly D. says:

    My son was arrested, not convicted. He is not guilty. Yet, there must have not been much news that day and they put his picture up on the local news in the afternoon about his arrest. He lost his job, he is afraid to apply for other job bc they may look him up on google. He was not found guilty and yet the news station ruined his life. There were such severe crimes out there and they are not up on the news site……it is unfair. He is a great kid that had a great future ahead but he feels targeted and embarrassed. I will get a lawyer if you tell me that we have a chance to have it removed. Please comment. Thanks

    • Sarah Downey says:

      There’s always a chance. You have nothing to lose by doing a consultation with a lawyer who’s experienced in defamation lawsuits, especially regarding online content. Look for a few people in your area and give them a call. So sorry that your son has gone through all this, and best of luck changing it.

  • Tony Disez says:

    Its very important & useful post for those who are struggling with Online Reputation Management Issues. Thank you very much for sharing such good post with all us.

  • Seri says:

    Thank you for the very informative article. I have one question, if I have made a post on a Facebook page and now a translation website has is up on their site and has also translated it to another language are they not infringing Facebook’s privacy laws? Can anything be done? I have tried to contact them but of no avail. The writing includes my full name and I have removed it from Facebook. Please help. Thanks.

  • Kelli says:

    What’s up to every one, it’s genuinely a pleasant for me
    to go to see this website, it contains helpful Information.

  • Belle says:

    Hi,

    I have followed the above instructions and it has not worked. Are you able to email me to assist me further?

    Thank you.

  • fred says:

    does anyone know how to remove your ad and photos completly from the post index forever from craigslist i made a poor awful mistake? i want everything gone

  • Jen says:

    Hey,
    A couple weeks back I was reading through the comments and saw that someone had posted a law of some kind that related to the taking down of articles if they caused mental and emotional distress and the person had proof of this.
    It appears that this comment has gone away from the comments section of the page. Can you repost it?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Jen-

      Are you sure it was this blog? The only comments we take down are ones that are overt spam or extremely offensive (and even then, I tend to leave them up rather than take them down to avoid censorship). I don’t remember seeing anything that fits this description.

      Thanks,

      -Sarah

  • Brianna says:

    But I want to delete what I typed in on YouTube and I don’t know how to delete that and that is permitted

  • Dale says:

    Question: Once a pdf file has been “non-searchable” by the originator, how long does it take for it to disappear from public view?

    • (Note: I’m assuming that by “public view,” you’re talking about visibility in search engines). It all depends on the site where it’s hosted. Google indexes big, popular sites more often, so a PDF that’s become non-searchable recently might take only a few days to disappear, whereas a PDF on a tiny blog might take a month or more. That’s why I recommend using the Google URL removal tool to push this process faster.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi there Sarah,

    I don’t want to give my name out so can you contact me through email. It’s a sensititve issue. A website has my photo and incorrect info about me and my family. I know the person who did it… Not personally but the website has his info too. I will give you the link when you email me. I don’t want to contact him because I know he will do
    Worse things. Please give me the right advise.

    Thank you :)

  • Sam Des says:

    Hi there!!! you are the best!!!!!!!!!!!! I have had something on the net that has been causing me some grief for the longest while and I took your suggestion of the Google’s URL Removal Tool, I woke up this morning and it was gone!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you guys! thanks soooo much. I am very grateful! btw, I didn’t use my real name, but I did put my real email address

  • Emma says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Can you help me out?
    I committed a crime at my last place of work due to my mental health situation. I have received my punishment which I believe is completely fair. I am ashamed and mortified about my actions. I am trying to move on with my life but I have this published article on the web about me. As soon as I type my name in, I’m confronted with it. I understand people need to know everything but it would be really helpful to my mental health situation if it wasn’t there.

    What can I do about it?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Emm in the uk

  • Hello i really need help!! i want a certain page to delete my entry from a contest as i made a mistake by putting it there i have mental health issues and ive messaged the page 4 times to remove it but they have took no notice! it’s on facebook, basically they’re not removing my photo and everything from it! and i really want it removed what can i do about this? here is the link and people are being nasty about it aswell which i didn’t want in fact i didn’t know it will be posted on facebook.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152528376557137&set=a.10152475137932137.1073741864.151208427136&type=1&comment_id=10721157&offset=0&total_comments=17&ref=notif&notif_t=photo_reply&theater

  • John Bernardi says:

    I’ve cleaned up my online reputation quite a bit over the last couple years. However, I have a couple “enemies” out there that are more internet savvy than I am, and I’m pretty sure its them who continually use “back-links” and other tricks to continuously make negative links rank higher than they normally would. Also, these people have contributed to the links at the bottom of the first page of Google: I’m referring to the links that have my name with another activity/career labeled with it. For example, if I google “Joe Smith,” there’s the first link page, then at the bottom there’s other links such as “Joe Smith Golfer,” “Joe Smith Banker,” “Joe Smith Criminal,” etc. Well, these also have been used against me. I recently talked with Reputation.com about fixing these and other links, and they quoted me $2,000. Is there another way to try and correct these problems? Who do you think is the most economical? Are there smaller companies who charge less, or maybe individuals who are savvy who can do it for much less? And how do you find them? I live in Silicon Valley, and its STILL hard to find these people! Thanks for any help! —- John

  • Grateful User says:

    I was sued by someone 2 years ago, initially in Federal Court and later in two different lower courts, for a total of four different actions against me. I was ultimately dismissed in all four actions the counterparty brought against me, and in my opinion were completely unfounded suits (but I’m biased). It cost me over $100k in legal bills and there was no real recourse for me to recapture that – I could’ve sued the counterparty, but after 2 years of “winning” I was just tired. I don’t know a lot of people with $100k laying around, and imagine that blowing that amount would be financially devastating to most people (so, rule # 1 is don’t get sued). As an interesting aside, I won two dismissals by ‘firing’ my attorney (still used him for behind-the-scenes advice) and becoming a pro se defendant and pushing the plaintiff’s counsel to sit down and talk as frequently as possible to work towards a resolution. Because the first suit was such a big one, a story about it hit the AP wires exactly 3 weeks before it was dismissed. If you Googled my name, the first two pages of results were articles written by “journalists” who had never called me for a comment who painted me out as a bad guy. Most of the papers just linked the original local article or fully plagiarized the original.

    Earlier this year I read this article and bookmarked it. It has been invaluable. As of today, I got the final article that discussed the suit removed from a newspaper’s website – it took about 4 requests (3 emails and one phone call) for this one. Most were more accommodating. In each case I highlighted that the article served no public interests (the suits have all been dismissed), but they did cause me a lot of harm and could keep me from finding jobs. This tack was very effective.

    I also used the Brandyourself website (I only used the free version, but they do have a one you can pay for that does more) to build an online brand. I basically copied my resume in for my primary Brandyourself page, and then linked between it, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. This service helped immensely in cleaning up my Google results from Googling my name on the first few pages of results. I think adding services such as this to the tactics you lay out in the article, would be a good addition to the overall strategy.

  • Grateful User - again... says:

    After I submitted that comment, I realize I also use your company’s products (MaskMe & DoNotTrackMe) and I just didn’t realize they were from your company. I actually used the MaskMe plugin to post these comments anonymously with temporary and anonymous email addresses… Great stuff.

  • anonymous says:

    please email me, I have a situation I could really, really use your help or advice with, it is spiraling out of control!

  • Jacquline (jackie) Hoegel says:

    In 2009 my boss Mr. Wise had committed a crime. After I had been arrested (because I was an employee) for ponzi scheme. I received 17 fraud charges, 1 false statement, 1 obstruction and 3 tax charges. I stated my innocents from the start. The SEC took all my and my husbands things; home, cars, motor home, checking and savings accounts that we had acquired over 35 years of marriage. We moved into a 5th wheel on friends property July 2009. The SF northern federal district court dismissed all fraud charges Nov. 13, 2013 and all other charges dismissed Dec. 4th. When you search my name I appear to be a really bad person BUT I am not and was not guilty. My problem my name is listed with Mr. Wise’s name and it needs to be out there for the safety of all people world wide. I have no money to hire an attorney Do you have suggestions for me, I am not computer smart but will put my best out to do as you suggest.

    You are my hope of freedom as others have.

  • julie cruzado says:

    Hi please help me someone posted an ad with my name and pictures. It’s really a bad ad. I already talked to the person who posted it. He said he deleted on the website itself. But when i checked it on google again ad is still there. Please help i dont want to loose my job because of this. Really appreciate if you will help me. Thank you and god bless.

  • LividinGeorgia says:

    I googled my name and realized there is a pdf file on google with my personal information (SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER) AND my 5 year old daughter’s (SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER).

    What the hell is Google doing with that online file? How did they receive access to my personal information??

    How can I get this removed? I have requested and demanded to no avail!

  • Kyuuri suji says:

    I truly wish to have this website taking down mostly because it is truly a false, misleading and hurtful site. It has been requested to be taking down hundreds of time and I think many people would apreciate it if this monstrosity would stop. Just read what the site has to say but I plead know your facts first.
    Please this cry from a hurt fury and help us

  • Needingthisservice says:

    TO ‘Grateful user’: COngratulations on your success. What do you do when the EIC of the paper will not budge? Who do you then talk to? Thanks a bunch!

  • chicco says:

    hello guys, do you know how long it takes google to delete photos that has been deleted in the website but still appear in google search? thank you. I’m really looking forward for an answer guys

  • Paul Topliff says:

    yes paul I couldn’t agree more

  • BL says:

    There is a terrible article about me on a site called homewreckers. I cried for 3 days after I read it. Please tell me how to go about removing the article. Its false and was posted by an extremely malicious person to publicly humiliate me.

    Thank you for your help…

    BL

    • Hello BL- I’m sorry to hear that. The only way to remove the article from that site is to contact the site thats posting the article. They should have some sort of opt out policy if you read their Privacy Policy.

  • Anonymous says:

    please contact me via email I really need your help. My name is Kayla.

  • Anna Taylor-Carter says:

    Hello Sarah,

    Please see the petition below. I created it through MoveOn.org. The petition is designed to “Stop Guilt By Internet.” The petition is part of a grassroots efforts to push congress for legislation that prohibits publishers from maintaining negative content on the internet about individuals who have had their court records sealed or expunged.

    I am trying to collect enough signatures from affected parties to take to the US House of Representatives, US Senate and President Barack Obama. Details of the movement are described in the petition below.

    Can you please post this on your blog, as many of your readers are personally affected by this problem and would be the direct beneficiaries of a change in potential legislation borne from this movement.

    Thank you in advance for supporting this worthy cause!

    PETITION BEGINS BELOW…

    Hi,

    Our government is made up of federal, state, and local court systems that are relied upon by citizens to mete out justice according to the law. This means, all citizens are held accountable based on the law. The laws concerning expunging a person’s court record should be held with the same acknowledgement of justice as any other law.
    This is not the case, however, because the internet has become the court of public opinion, and is literally ruining the lives of tens of thousands of people who made a mistake at one point in their life, but paid their debt to society and now deserve (and by law have been granted) the opportunity for a second chance.
    It’s unfair that negative content that stays on the internet for years and years can make you guilty for life, even after the courts have cleared your name, and even after you have done everything in your power to turn your life around.
    This needs to change! Now is the time to push back against online publishers ‘ claim of “free speech” and fight for the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Guilt by internet should be stopped.

    That’s why I, Anna Taylor-Carter, created a petition to create a grassroots movement to call for new legislation to be enacted by congress to bring relief to those who have been wrongfully affected by “internet ambushing.” once I collect all the signatures, I’m taking them to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama, which says:

    “Stop online content that compromise the privacy of individuals who have had their court records expunged or sealed.”

    Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name:

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-guilt-by-internet?source=c.fwd&r_by=2857853

  • NY girl says:

    Hello,

    I need help removing sites for my prior business. I’ve changed industries and do not want my previous pages showing up on Google. I’ve tried calling Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc. but I couldn’t get anyone on the phone. When I go to their sites to request removal they all state they cannot remove the pages. I was told I need to hire a lawyer, but I have no idea what type of lawyer would handle this. Can you provide me with any advice?

    Thanks, NY girl

    • Dan says:

      Hi New York girl I would really appreciate your help taking my business off the net I have same problem as you I live in Australia not many people know what to do can you please help

  • Ashley says:

    I need your advice taking down a post on a website. the Domain Owner is Registration Private.

  • relieved says:

    Hello Sarah,

    I just wanted to say thanks. I had a really distasteful (and inaccurate) news article posted about me. It had been up on the web for over 6 months – within a week of reading this webpage, I was able to compile a tailored/targeted written request to the author which, within 3 days ultimately led to this article being taken off the web entirely. I cant express enough, the amount of relief, freedom and joy which achieving this result gave me.

    Your tips are really good – and in reading all of yr web page – not jumping in, and refining my request – I was able to achieve the outcome I wanted.

    Thanks

  • Yoon Hana says:

    Hey! can u delete my friends bog? Cause my friend want to delete it but she doesn’t know how to do it, plus she forgot her password and email. Please help!

  • Tanu says:

    Very very informative.. Good job! Not just for the heck of it.

  • evelyn hughes says:

    Hello

    This site is a fraud http://www.hultmbareview.com they are harming Hult University Reputation and all of the facts which are being posted totally untrue.Being a Hult Alumni I feel very bad that some of the people are doing such kind of wrong activities on internet.

    Is It possible to remove this site from Google Search Results.

  • I am actually glad to glance at this website posts which carries tons of
    helpful facts, thanks for providing these kinds of information.

  • BAM says:

    We also have a paid service for anyone who gets stuck with content they can’t get removed.

    http://www.3w.com.au

  • Dan says:

    I would like anything to do with my business taken off google search because business is no longer trading how can you help me

  • ¡Muchas Gracias!. Jesucristoeninternet (escrito unido en todos los buscadores).

  • Debra Green says:

    Please delete me from this How to delete things from the internet. I’m no longer intrested in it. Thank you anyway. I’d like to delete Abine and stay with Google

  • ¡Thanks!. Jesucristoeninternet (united writed)

  • ¡Muchas Gracias! JESUCRISTOENINTERNET (Escrito unido en todos los Navegadores y buscadores de Internet)

  • Anthony says:

    I’ve submitted multiple removal requests to get my status removed from google search results and they all keep getting denied….
    I contacted the original site webmaster and all content has been removed and the account permanently deleted. But that status still appears in google search results… please help?
    here is the link from the search result http://feed.meetme.com/view/71248450/ae55635e-cf87-41cd-8753-33ab8df22ab9

  • geri says:

    Thanks for the helpful article!

    I couldn’t help notice that the sites you listed as “troublesome” are all voluntary sites. The one I am most concerned about are those “directory” compilations that list your private information without permission.

    As an older job seeker, I am 99% sure prospective employers check these sites as well as others and can see my age. This can, and probably, has lead to age discrimination in hiring.

    Thoughts, anyone on both getting this info removed? Thanks.

  • Robert says:

    I’ve got a serious issue on the google website and need to speak with someone hopefully in authority about the content please. Thank you.

  • ¡Thanks!
    JESUCRISTOENINTERNET
    (united writed!

  • harjinder says:

    web9cloud is very helpfull for tarining in internet. t is our belief that so as to be best it needs accommodative technology and computer code solutions.We have a tendency for internet maintenance, internet development,

  • Meegan Peebles says:

    Great Article very informative. Because I work for myself the best bet is to continue to build myself positively in Google. So the positive outways this page that was created of me.

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    accredited or recommended hostels a try. In most cases the earlier you
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  • ¡Thanks!. jesucristoeninternet (escrito unido en todos los navegadores y buscadores de internet)

  • getaslot.com says:

    I really like what you guys tend to be up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the good works guys I’ve included you guys to my personal blogroll.

  • Keith says:

    Hi Sarah, thanks for a great article.

    I need help with two sites that have incorrect business contact information listed (my personal email address):

    I have no contact info for usa-adress.com, and I have contacted consumerprotectionagency.org three times over the past year, without receiving a reply.

    Do you have any idea how to reach usa-adress.com?

    And do you know where usa-adress.com and consumerprotectionagency.org get their information? Trying to find “the source”.

    Thank you!

  • Marina Roulis says:

    I would like to be sure something is deleted from the Internet. Who can I speak to?

  • sam says:

    You can email me at s...@thegeekz.com. Get anything deleted from search results or get that buried in later pages.

  • This article came out in 2001, was never on any results pages for me up until about 8 months ago, then it was on third page, 3months ago it started showing up on second result page, last month on first page at bottom – now it is the first result!!

    Please help

  • Robert says:

    I have a issue with a posting on google and would like some authoritative assistance with it please.



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