How to Remove Defamatory & Damaging Content From Bing Search Results
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Oftentimes, the most damaging aspect of unwanted Internet is that it appears on search engines such as Google and Bing. We have previously shared informative guides on how to remove defamatory content and other search results from Google. This article is targeted towards strategies for removing content from Bing, which can be a significant challenge.
While Google is the top search engine in the world by no small measure, Bing still accounts for a substantial portion of the U.S. search market share. Microsoft’s Bing is the second largest search engine, accounting for 38.46% share of U.S. console users. Bing also powers Yahoo search, which accounts for an estimated 2.55% of global search engine traffic. Another emerging search engine, DuckDuckGo, uses Bing as one of several sources for its own search results.
If there is defamatory or otherwise damaging content about you published online, removing it from Bing’s search results is crucial. To remove defamatory content from Bing, you can:
- Ask the publisher, webmaster, or anyone else with editorial control to remove the content from its source;
- Submit request forms to de-index and remove an outdated cache from Bing;
- Submit notice for any copyright or other Bing policy violations, and
- File a lawsuit against the publisher seeking a court order to compel removal.
Minc Law has helped hundreds of individuals and businesses remove defamatory content from Bing and other search engines. Every situation is different. Sometimes, albeit infrequently, a simple report can lead to removal. Other times, you may need to persistently report the content to Bing or even obtain a court order. Of course, removing the content from search engine results does not erase it from the Internet entirely.
In this article, we explain the importance of monitoring and removing any defamatory or otherwise damaging content from Internet search results as quickly as possible. We then provide several tips to remove the unwanted content from Bing, either on your own or with the help of an Internet defamation attorney.
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Types of Damaging & Defamatory Content on the Internet
Search engines such as Google and Bing are necessary tools for finding information, especially when making a purchasing decision or conducting other market research. For that reason, search engines such as Bing are often weaponized by individuals with malicious intent for nefarious purposes, such as broadcasting false or embarrassing information about an ex-partner, ex-employer, business competitor, or rival.
What Are the Different Types of Damaging Online Content?
Various forms of online mediums, including but not limited to social media platforms, news sites, online reviews, discussion forums, and blog posts, can be the sounding board for harmful and unwanted content.
Since the Internet is so widely accessible and provides a multitude of options for anonymity in speech, it has become perhaps the most popular tool in the modern digital age for reputational attacks.
Being subject to online defamation can seriously damage your reputation, leading to professional and personal harm. Online content that invades your privacy can strain personal relationships, expose you to humiliation and shame, and cause a great deal of stress.
Indeed, due to the effectiveness of harmful Internet content, there is an entire industry of online platforms that profit from user-generated publications that harass and shame others. Many of these shaming websites—such as cheater, scam, revenge porn, and ripoff sites—are loosely moderated forums on which anyone can post damaging content about you for the whole world to see.
What is the Difference Between Libel & Slander?
Defamation is a false statement made to a third party that causes damage to another person or entity’s reputation. Depending on the method of publication, defamation generally falls into one of two categories: libel or slander. Libel is the written form of defamation. Slander is the spoken form.
What Effect Can Defamatory Content Have on Your Reputation?
Defamatory statements about you or your business can lead to several negative consequences, including:
- Professional loss. Your professional standing, career trajectory, or employment status may be adversely affected.
- Loss of revenue and/or customers. Others may be deterred from utilizing your services or otherwise interacting with you.
- Reputational damage. Your personal and/or professional reputations may be irreparably injured.
- Psychological harm. Many victims of defamatory attacks report suffering from anxiety, extreme stress, and depression.
The Importance of Having Defamatory Content Removed From Bing
Due to the high potential for resultant harm, you should seek to remove defamatory content from Bing and other search engines as quickly as possible.
Why is It Important to Have Defamatory Content Removed From Bing?
Search engines are now woven into the fabric of modern society. We use them to choose where to shop and dine, to find news and informational articles that sway our opinions and perspectives, and to generally learn more about an individual or a business, product, or service.
Inevitably, someone—a potential employer or customer, a new neighbor, or a romantic interest—will run your name through a search engine. So it is a good idea to stay aware of what content appears on search results for your name or the name of your business.
The contents on the first page of search results can influence hiring, purchasing, dating, and a variety of other important decisions. If your search results are completely positive, that can be a boost to your reputation. But even a small percentage of negative information is likely to attract more attention and clicks than positive content. This unfortunate effect makes the negative content rank even higher.
If your business is relatively new with a low online presence, one negative piece of content could impact your reputation even more. In fact, it is estimated that even a single negative article can cause a business to lose 22% of its customers.
How Long Will Defamatory & Damaging Content Remain on the Internet?
We do not agree with the phrase “the Internet is forever.” However, the longer you wait to remove unwanted content, the more difficult (or impossible) it will be. Best practices dictate keeping a watchful eye on your online footprint and acting quickly in response to any harmful posts about you.
If a court order is required for removal, it is even more crucial to act quickly due to various statutes of limitations which impose strict deadlines on when a claim may be filed. In many jurisdictions, a plaintiff must file a defamation lawsuit within one year of the date the defamatory statement was published.
How Does the Suppression of Online Content Work?
Suppression can be an effective tactic if you cannot remove the content completely or quickly enough (if you are in the process of having it removed). Suppression is an online reputation management (ORM) technique that involves creating highly-ranking positive content about you with an aim to push negative content lower in search results.
Video: How Suppression Can Help You Take Control of Your Online Reputation
So long as the suppression efforts are and remain successful, most people will never see the negative unwanted content since it will be buried too deep in search results.
Effective ORM professionals use a variety of tactics, including:
- Creating positive blog and social media content (e.g., Twitter, Facebook);
- Monitoring and replying to business reviews;
- Customizing social media privacy settings; and
- Claiming all online profiles and business listings (e.g., Google My Business).
Effective Steps to Remove Defamatory Content From Bing
If your online reputation is being harmed by a search result on Bing, it is imperative for you to take action. Listed below are several steps you can take on your own to attempt to remove unwanted and defamatory content from Bing.
What Non-Legal Steps Can You Take to Remove Content From Bing?
Removing defamatory and otherwise damaging results from Bing is certainly possible without initiating a lawsuit. We recommend considering the following possible recourses:
- Request removal of the source material which is generating the search result from the publisher, webmaster, or anyone else with editorial control;
- Ask the publisher, webmaster, or anyone else with editorial control to edit the unwanted content (e.g. remove your name);
- Purchase the website where the unwanted content is published and remove it yourself,
- Report any policy or terms of service violations,
- If the unwanted content is an intimate image, submit a report form to Bing.;
- If the source site has removed the content but it is still showing in search results, use Bing’s Content Removal tool to remove the outdated result; and
- Submit a de-indexing request to Bing.
Request Removal From the Source
The quickest and easiest action plan is to convince the publisher, webmaster, or anyone else with editorial control to delete the unwanted content.
For example, if your business received a one-star review from a real customer, you may be able to use tactful and compassionate customer service skills to resolve their concerns. Or, if perhaps a newspaper or blogger had a misunderstanding of the fact and, if you reach out to them with a respectful request for correction, they may be willing to alter or delete their publication.
But be very careful when making such requests. Be mindful to not provoke the individual or do anything to amplify the problem. This latter scenario is known as the Streisand Effect. An experienced attorney or other reputation management professional can help you craft an effective inquiry and persuasive argument.
Furthermore, be aware that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms that display user-generated content. These platforms—including search engines, review websites, social media platforms, and online discussion forums—are absolutely immune from legal liability for displaying user-generated content. Threatening these platforms with legal action can obviously backfire and shut down any meaningful conversation before it begins.
For more tips on working with news editors, see our article: “How to Remove News Articles From the Internet.”
Purchase the Website Where the Unwanted Content is Displayed or Obtain Rights to the Content
In rare situations, you may be able to purchase or otherwise obtain control over the website on which the content is displayed. If you do so, you can remove the content yourself.
Internet domains regularly expire and are often bought or resold to new owners. If you can purchase the domain of the website where the content is displayed, you will have editorial control over the content and the ability to decide whether it remains published.
In other situations, you may be able to obtain the copyright for the unwanted content. For example, if the content’s copyright owner can be persuaded to assign you the copyright (or let you act as their agent to send a DMCA takedown notice), you can then report the content as a copyright violation and seek to have it removed.
Internet domains and copyright assignments are sometimes granted as part of a larger legal settlement, money judgment, or cybersquatting remedy.
Report Any Policy, Terms of Service (ToS), or Conditions of Use Violations
Most websites and online platforms have terms of service (ToS) or other conditions of use that users must follow. You can usually find a link to view the guidelines on the website’s homepage.
For example, Bing’s policy states that content it displays must not:
- Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten, or otherwise violate the legal rights of others;
- Publish or distribute inappropriate, defamatory, obscene, or unlawful material;
- Contain images, software, or other material protected by intellectual property laws without the necessary permissions.
If the harmful content is in violation of Bing’s policies, you can report the harmful content to Bing directly through the platform’s report form. This form allows users to report an array of content, including:
- Offensive material;
- Malicious pages (phishing, malware).
- Private information (intimate images, credit card numbers, passwords);
- A valid court order to take down content;
- Broken links and outdated pages;
- Intellectual property (copyright, trademark, sale of counterfeit goods); and
- Child pornography.
Another option is to access the main Bing reporting portal. This portal can be used for reporting everything from APIs and ads to correcting your business’s information on Bing Places.
If Bing’s content moderation team determines that the content violates policies, they may grant your request for removal. However, it is a unilateral and discretionary decision to remove. Moreover, since it receives a very high volume of requests, the review process can take a frustratingly long time. An experienced Internet attorney may be able to help escalate and expedite the matter.
If you are a European resident, due to the E.U.’s privacy laws which do not exist in the U.S., you have the right to ask search engines to block search engine results containing your name under certain circumstances using this form.
Use Bing’s Non-Consensual Intimate Imagery Reporting Form
If the content in question is an unauthorized explicit or intimate image of you, that would violate Bing’s policies. You can report such content through this form. If it is approved, Bing’s content moderators will remove the search results from all Microsoft services.
Keep in mind, however, that the content will not be removed from its source website. You should contact an experienced Internet attorney to help you remove the non-consensual intimate imagery from its source.
Remove Outdated Cache From Bing Using Its Content Removal Tool
Even if the unwanted content is removed, it may still appear in Bing’s search results until the page where the content existed is re-crawled by Bing. Bing’s webmaster tool can be used to report web pages that either:
- Have broken links (e.g. “404 – Not Found”); or
- Display in Bing’s search results with outdated content in a previous version of the page.
If approved, Bing will remove these outdated links from search results.
How Quickly Does Bing Respond to Removal Requests?
Bing’s moderation team is supposed to act on valid removal requests within 24 hours. However, in our experience, the response time is commonly much slower than that.
Bing tends to remove some types of content expeditiously. Valid notices of copyright violations are acted upon quicker than most other policy violations. Bing also tends to remove revenge and child pornography quickly without requiring a lawsuit to be filed.
Content posted on ShesAHomewrecker.com, TheDirty.com, and other shaming websites may be removed promptly, but effective success requires the guidance of an experienced Internet attorney to avoid the significant risks posed by the profit-driven models of shaming websites. If you try to instigate those removals on your own without an advocate, you will likely incur substantial added expenses.
How is Bing Search Different From Google Search When It Comes to Removal?
Persistence is often required in requesting removal from Bing, even with a court order in hand. While Google typically responds to similar removal requests and de-indexes content within a few days or a week, Bing’s moderation team may take closer to 30 days to respond, or the removal request may go completely unanswered and require follow-up.
Bing’s content removal tools are also fairly limited. For instance, Google has added a removal tool for exploitative practices. There is an entire industry of mugshot, cheater, and shaming sites whose entire business model is to earn money from individuals who pay to remove the post. Google’s removal tool for exploitative practices lets users request the removal of search results from these sites. But other search engines, like Bing and DuckDuckGo, do not offer this tool.
Bing also does not implement every court order for removal. While it has become somewhat more difficult to convince Google to implement court orders in recent years, Bing has resisted court orders for well over a decade.
Most search engines profess a goal for their algorithm to return accurate and unmanipulated search results. Therefore, these platforms are generally unwilling to remove content which remains published elsewhere on the Internet. Since they are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, they do not have to comply with a court order. However, in the interest of enforcing their own policies, search engines may choose to implement a court order to provide some of the relief which the order seeks to grant.
A successful court order to remove search results from Bing must be extremely narrow and specific.
For further reading on Google content removals, we recommend our comprehensive guide explaining ‘How to remove defamatory content from Google’.
Legal Options for Addressing Defamatory Content on Bing
If you have exhausted the self-help options listed above to report and remove harmful content, you may want to consider contacting an experienced Internet attorney for assistance. Below, we list your legal options for responding to unwanted content on Bing.
What Are Your Legal Options if Bing Refuses to Remove Unwanted Content?
If Bing’s content moderators are unwilling or unable to help, you may need to resort to formal legal processes to obtain the relief sought.
Submit DMCA Takedown Notices For Any Copyright Violations
Written content, videos, photos, and other media are protected against unauthorized use or reproduction. If the content in question belongs to you (if it was a photo you took, for instance) and you did not give the publisher permission to post it, you may be able to remove the content via a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice.
A DMCA takedown notice is a legal demand to remove copyright violations from an infringing website, search engine, or web host. These notices can be quite effective. But an incorrectly written DMCA notice can do more harm than good, which is why you should consult with an experienced Internet attorney on the matter to determine if a DMCA notice is appropriate and for assistance in crafting and submitting the notice properly.
File a Lawsuit to Obtain a Court Order to Compel the Removal of Content
While you generally cannot sue search engines like Google and Bing, you may be able to sue the individual who published the unwanted content. In addition to removal, if the publication contains defamatory statements or is otherwise unlawful, you may be able to recover damages for any harm you suffered.
You may also obtain prospective relief through a court order prohibiting the publisher from repeating any content adjudicated to be false and defamatory.
Why is It Important to Work With an Experienced Internet Attorney?
Defamation claims are far from simple and Internet defamation is no exception. If you decide to take legal action, you must be fully apprised of the potential risks and rewards. An experienced Internet defamation attorney can help you answer many relevant questions, such as:
- Where to file the lawsuit;
- What defenses to defamation or to other claims might be available under the applicable facts;
- When the statute of limitations will expire and if there are any exceptions which may be invoked; and
- What pre-suit and filing requirements may be in play.
The right attorney for you will help formulate an effective strategy to remove the unwanted content while also providing a supportive, listening ear during such a difficult time.
How We Can Help You Remove Damaging Content From Search Results
The legal team at Minc Law focuses exclusively on assisting clients with the removal of unwanted content on the Internet. We have proven experience helping individuals and businesses who have been victimized by embarrassing or harmful online content.
We are highly experienced in Bing’s removal policies and best practices for removing unwanted content from search engines in general.
Whether the content was posted by an anonymous troll, an ex-partner with a grudge, an unscrupulous business competitor, or even a legitimate customer, we can guide you to the most effective solution.
“Obtaining this legal representation saved our buisness. Minc Law represented and defended us against defamation so our customers didn’t have to. Minc Law gave us a voice and Daniel Powell made sure we were heard and considered in each part of the process. He also provided practical advice that helped us avoid a snowball effect, and added a human element while dealing with social media organizations.”
April 12, 2022
If you are the victim of online defamation, extortion, a fake review of your business, or other damaging online content, we can answer any questions you may have. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation by calling us at (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat Representative, or filling out our contact form.
Dan Hinckley. New Study: Data Reveals 67% of Consumers are Influenced by Online Reviews. Moz (2015).