How to remove negative info from the internet & Google
Are you trying to erase negative information from the internet? It may seem an impossible task, but you can take steps to remove or reduce the visibility of harmful content online. Take back control of the narrative and protect your online reputation with the help of our easy-to-follow guide.
Let’s talk about negative content
Negative content is any hostile, offensive, or otherwise harmful content, either verbal or visual. It includes insults, bullying, threats, slander, harassment, and other abusive behavior.
For the purpose of this article, we will consider any undesirable information about yourself or your brand available on the internet as negative online content.
In other words,negative content includes any reviews, opinions, comments, and negative articles that are harmful to your reputation or the reputation of your business.
Why remove negative information about yourself from the internet?
Your online reputation matters and directly affects your life and work. Recruiters are known for scanning candidates’ social media to understand better who they are. Your next match on Tinder will do precisely the same before meeting you in person. According to research, candidates with the best Facebook pictures obtain approximately 38% more job interview invitations than those with the least appropriate profile pictures.
The impact of negative reviews on your business
You have to carefully manage negative comments about your business if you are an entrepreneur. According to a recent study, consumers were most likely to purchase a product when its rating was between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. Notably, 3-star reviews result in a 68% decrease in customer trust.
Below you’ll find all the online content removal options open to you as well as tips on what to do when removal is impossible.
Removing negative content from Google
As Google is the most popular search engine worldwide, any negative content found there is going to be your biggest pain. Removing negative content from Google is possible but not easy. A lot depends on where the information is published and why you want it gone.
Removing negative content from Google search results
Negative content can be particularly harmful if it appears on the first page of Google search results. There are several ways to try to remove it. Let’s start with the easiest one.
Contacting the website owner
If a negative article or blog post about your brand or product is bothering you, your best shot would be to ask its author to either update or remove it altogether. The article may be outdated, or you have already fixed the problem. It’s a win-win situation where you can win positive content for your brand, and the author of the content can stay relevant.
Removing outdated content from Google search
Even once harmful or defamatory content has been removed, it may still appear in Google searches. Use this form to request an update of the Google search console. Click on “new request,” enter the URL in question, and click “submit”.
Reporting harmful or illegal content on Google
If contacting the author of the negative content is not possible or doesn’t work, you can report it directly to Google. That said, Google will only remove content if it violates its Terms of Service or the laws of the relevant country or region. Go to this form to describe the issue on Google, select the product where the content is published and the reason for your request.
You can create a request once you have responded to all the questions. Depending on the nature of your request, the form will take you to a document specific to your case.
Sending a removal request to Google
The other reason why Google may remove content (including images) from search results is if it contains “select personally identifiable information (PII) or doxxing content.” According to the recently updated (April 2022) removal request policy, you can file a request if the content in question contains the following:
- your personal information
- nudity or sexually explicit content
- images of a person under 18
You can also file a request if the negative article or other content is on a site with exploitative removal practices.
To fill in the personal content removal form, click here.
For a step-by-step guide on removing your digital footprint from Google, go to: How to Remove Your Personal Info from Google Search.
Removing negative reviews from Google Maps
Online reviews are a powerful promotional tool. If you have a business account, Google will encourage you to collect them. While a couple of negative opinions will not harm your brand, too many can be a problem.
While you cannot remove a negative comment from your Google company profile, you can report it if you think it’s fake or inaccurate. Here are the steps:
- Go to Google Maps and type in the name of your business.
- Click the “reviews” tab on the right side.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page where the negative reviews appear.
- Click on the three vertical dots next to the negative review and select “flag as inappropriate.”
- Follow the instructions to explain why the review is inappropriate.
- Click “submit” to send the report to Google for review.
- Google will take down the review if it agrees that it’s inappropriate.
Remember that you can always reply to a negative comment and explain what happened if Google doesn’t honor your request.
Other ways to improve your reputation on Google
If you fail at removing negative search results from Google, do not despair—there are other ways to improve your Google standing.
Suppressing negative search results
If you can’t beat them, join the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) game and create high-quality content which will overshadow the results you don’t want people to see. Search results suppression is a proven online reputation management tactic. The aim is to “bury” negative content on the second page of search engine results.
Why is this so important? According to a study of Google traffic in the US and Canada, less than 5% of Google Search users click through to the second page of a search. Out of sight, out of mind!
Managing your ratings and reviews
Not all negative reviews are bad for you. In fact, according to a 2022 Power Reviews study, 96% of consumers specifically look for negative reviews before making a purchase decision. To ensure negative comments don’t harm your business, always respond to them. To increase the proportion of positive reviews, think of proactively asking your happy customers for feedback or running a sampling campaign.
Removing negative content from search engines other than Google
Our recommendations are similar if you are keen on removing negative information from other search engines such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, or Yahoo.
Contact the web page first
Try contacting the author or the website owners and asking for the harmful content to be removed or updated. This is usually the most efficient way to have content removed from search results.
Content removal requests on Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo
Because smaller search engines handle much smaller traffic volumes and some are relatively new, their content removal processes are often more basic. Bing clearly states that it does not control what appears in its search results. However, it does offer a form to report content. As Yahoo and DuckDuckGo utilize Bing’s search technology and don’t have specific tools, you can request that content be removed using the same Bing form.
Web pages aside, negative information on social media is, unfortunately, a far too common occurrence. Negative news can quickly spread through social media sites, whether it’s gossip, rumors, or simply someone’s opinion. Negative social media information can affect your mental health and your business. Let’s look at some of the ways you can limit the damage.
Removing negative content from Facebook
Worried about Facebook hate? The most popular social media site offers many options to hide, delete, and moderate content.
- Hide. You can hide a comment under something you posted online without the commenter or their friends noticing. Tap the comment in question (mobile) or click the three dots (desktop) to open the menu and select “hide.”
- Delete. Facebook also allows you to delete comments. You can select it from the same menu. Just be warned that the author may notice and get upset.
- Report. After selecting “report,” Facebook will ask you to specify the problem.
- Limit comments or turn them off completely. You can limit who can comment on your posts by clicking the three dots next to the post and selecting the correct group.
- Block. You can block a negative commentator permanently from posting comments on your page. You need to find this person under the “people who like this page” tab or “people who follow this page” in ”settings.” Once you have, check the box next to their name and select the cogwheel button, then choose “ban from page.”
Reporting and hiding negative content Instagram
You can quickly delete your comments and those left by others under your Instagram posts. Tap on the comment and select “delete.”
Reporting abusive content on Instagram
To hide or report content, select the three dots beside the account name (top left corner), then tap “hide” or “report.” The post will disappear immediately from your feed if you select “hide.” Tapping “report” will take you to a screen with more options.
Sensitive content control on Instagram
Instagram also allows you to limit the amount of upsetting or offensive content you see. This content time is, by default, set to “low” if you are under 18 years old. Follow the steps below to adjust the “sensitive” content setting.
Reporting, blocking, or muting content on Twitter
Twitter has built-in tools that allow users to report any offensive or threatening content they encounter.
- Report. To report a tweet, click on the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of the tweet and select “report tweet.” You will then be prompted to choose a category that best describes the tweet, such as “harassment” or “abusive behavior.” After submitting the report, Twitter will review the tweet and take appropriate action.
- Block or mute. Additionally, users can block or mute accounts that post offensive content. Blocking an account will prevent them from seeing your tweets or sending you direct messages while muting an account will prevent their tweets from appearing in your timeline.
Reporting and restricting content on TikTok
Like other social media sites, TikTok offers ways to manage negative, harmful, or defamatory content.
- Report a video. To report content on TikTok, press and hold the video and then select the “report” option. Once reported, TikTok moderators will review the content and, if necessary, delete the post.
- Report an account. To report an account, go to the user’s profile by clicking on their username. Select “report” and then “report account.”
- Block and restrict. Users can also block users or restrict content from appearing on their “For You” page. To do this, access the account’s profile page, tap the three-dot icon, and select the “block user” or “restrict content” option.
Follow these guides to make your social media accounts more private:
- How to make your TikTok sccount private
- How to make your Pinterest account private
- How to make your Twitter (X) account private
- How to make Instagram private
- How to make Facebook private
Hire a third-party service
Getting rid of negative content from the internet can be frustrating and time-consuming. If you lack time and can afford it, consider using an agency or a content moderator who will do the job for you.
Reputation management agency
Using online reputation management services to remove negative information from the internet is one way to protect your online presence. An agency will help identify and remove all undesired content, such as reviews, blog posts, and other online posts, and actively monitor for new content and alert you when it appears. They can help you proactively create positive content and build a stronger online presence with a good SEO suppression strategy.
Negative reviews about you and your brand on social media platforms can be distressing and distracting. Consider hiring a social media moderator or a community manager to reinforce posting and commenting guidelines and keep your followers engaged and happy.
Hiring a defamation lawyer
In edge cases, consulting an experienced online defamation attorney can also help remove unlawful information about you or your brand from the internet. An attorney can file a defamation lawsuit and represent you if you decide to pursue legal action. Unfortunately, litigation costs are usually very high and hard to estimate in advance.
Prevention is better than cure
Undoubtedly, negative content online can have very real-life consequences for your professional success, business, and overall mental health. Your best bet is to try to prevent it from happening. Stop and think before posting anything featuring you or people you care for. It’s hard to control content once it’s out there- it can be shared, copied, and commented on in ways you didn’t imagine. Adjust your privacy settings on social media and use private messaging instead.
How long does it take Google to remove content?
Google takes various measures to remove content that violates its policies. Generally, it can take anywhere from several hours to several days for Google to remove the content, depending on the complexity and urgency of the request.
How do I remove my name from internet searches?
Removing one’s name from internet searches is a challenging task. It requires a great deal of vigilance and persistence. The first step is to thoroughly search websites and social media platforms to identify any personal information out there. The second step is to contact them and ask them to remove your name. Check out our article on how to remove personal information from the internet for a step-by-step guide.
What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a US copyright law that addresses online service providers’ and copyright owners’ rights and responsibilities. It was passed in 1998 and is intended to protect the rights of copyright owners while also providing a legal framework for online service providers so they are not held responsible for content posted by their users.