Cleaning up information in Google and other search engines can be daunting. In many cases an individual will hire a reputation management company to remove or suppress outdated or unwanted publicity that appears when their name is searched. Suppression is simply a matter of running a positive online branding campaign. These campaigns can take a little or sometimes a lot of patience depending on the difficulty of the project. A suppression campaign will usually quickly get fresh, relevant, and positive information about you into search engines.
Naturally the first question most will have about unwanted information in their search results is – can it just be removed? The world of removal is much, much more complex. Here is a quick rundown to brief you on the ins and outs of removal. We specialize in protection and suppression campaigns and do not work at all in removals.
We are not attorneys and this should not be considered legal advice. This information is designed to help people that naively approach the removal industry for the first time. The below was gleamed from years of hearing clients stories who ultimately decided to instead focus on building factual and positive content under their name in search engines.
Okay, so there are hundreds of companies who will offer to remove a site for you for a fee. The first question you should ask is – how? If they answer that their technique is proprietary then you need to look elsewhere and at least get an opinion from someone in the industry not selling you their product or service. In the world of removals proprietary is not a good answer. Are they paying someone with the same answer who is paying someone that is hiring a hacker to remove the content? That’s illegal and the trail leads straight back to you since you were the subject in the information that was removed. Are they sending fake court orders to Google or false DMCA requests all of which are made public and have been known to cause backlash? Obviously you want to steer wide and clear of these methods. In any case you have to have more information that answers the question – HOW.
There are very legitimate instances where content can be removed. When people post information that is truly defamatory, photos that you have the rights to, private information. In all of these instances a site can be legally removed but it will likely involve the use of a lawyer that specializes in online defamation.
Then there are the gray areas in the removal world that typically do not involve attorneys. The sites hosting the unwanted content are compensated in one way or another for removing the information about you that you do not like. This could be a mugshot, revenge porn, slander, the list goes on. The process usually involves one or more middle men. The risk here is once you start paying these individuals or firms (usually outside of the U.S.) there is the possibility that the information will start popping up on other sites with the same goal.
The difficulty with removals is people tend to act impulsively and the process is made to sound very simple with no risk. Just from reading this one quick post you should now know better and to approach with caution.