By:  Melanie Hughes, Paralegal

When you find negative or defamatory content about you online, your first reaction will likely be, “How do I get this content removed?” The problem is, there are a lot of popular myths and misconceptions about online content removal. As content removal attorneys, we’ve heard them all. Now, we’re setting the record straight and debunking some of the biggest myths about content removal.

One common misconception is that you can simply ask Google to remove negative online content. Google is merely a hosting platform and does not have the power to remove content from the original website or location.

There are some limited circumstances where Google may remove content from their search results without a lawsuit:

  • When the content is outdated or has been removed from the internet by the original hosting platform
  • When the content violates Google’s policies
  • When the content violates copyright laws or other laws (like child pornography)
  • If the content is unauthorized adult content

In this article, we’ll discuss all the top myths about online content removal, address why they’re false, and cover key facts about content removal.

Let’s dive right in with the first myth: it’s impossible to completely remove online content.

MYTH: It’s Impossible to Completely Remove Online Content

This is false. “The internet is forever” is not necessarily true. It is possible to remove content from the internet completely. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

No one can promise content that has been removed will never come back. 98% of the time it doesn’t, but there is always that 1-2% chance that it might. No one can control what’s posted to the internet. This means no one (including attorneys) can fully guarantee a persistent defamer won’t post the content again in the future. However, if you obtain a court order, you can quickly take action against the poster if they repost negative content.

There are also situations where negative content is duplicated by people other than the original poster. Scraper websites, archives, and the dark web may copy negative content – sometimes without you even being aware of it. This is rare but does happen occasionally.

FACT: Experienced Internet Attorneys Can Remove Unwanted Online Content

An experienced internet attorney can assist in removing content from the internet and help ensure nothing is posted again. In many cases, we at Minc Law have removed content even when we thought had a slim chance of removal. We will do anything to help our clients find a way to remove damaging content.

MYTH: You Can Just Hack the Website or Magically Delete Content

Not true. Legally (and ethically) attorneys cannot hack into a website or server to remove content. In fact, you can get into serious trouble if you get caught trying this.

Beyond the legal repercussions, there is no guarantee that the removed content will not appear again. This means you could be putting yourself in legal hot water and still not fully remove the content.

Likewise, there is no magical delete button or trick to removing content. No one entity or individual has the power to simply remove content from the internet. The only truly effective way to remove content is to work with a professional who has content removal experience.

FACT: Internet Attorneys Find Unique & Legal Solutions to Remove Online Content

Experienced internet attorneys and defamation lawyers specialize in finding unique and legal methods to remove content from all types of online sources. At Minc Law, we understand every client and legal issue is unique, and utilize extensive investigative and legal know-how to find the right type of solution for you and your legal situation.

Content Removal FactCourt ordered removals are directions issued by a court or judge which require a party or website to do or not do something. Court ordered content removals are extremely effective tools that a large percentage of companies, websites, and search engines respect and enforce.

MYTH: All Removals Are Guaranteed

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately, many removal services are not guaranteed.

When working with a third party such as a newspaper website, someone’s blog, or someone’s social media profile, guarantees cannot be made. This is because the websites and posters are not obligated to remove content from their own platforms.

If a removal service or law firm tells you their removals are guaranteed, please be wary. Nothing in life is guaranteed, especially on the internet.

FACT: Some Online Content Removals Are Guaranteed

Some internet attorneys have built up an arsenal of legal tactics and strategies to offer guaranteed content removals from specific websites. At Minc Law, we offer guaranteed removals for certain websites that we have worked with in the past. We also possess the knowledge, expertise, and persuasive tactics to help remove online content. Contact us to discuss in more detail.

MYTH: You Can Request Google Remove the Content

This is a complicated myth, but generally false. It’s important to understand that Google is just a hosting platform. Removing information from Google does not remove it from the web, just search results. You need to know the source of the content you want to remove and who controls the source in order to completely remove the content.

Google will remove outdated content that has been changed or has been completely removed from the search results. But Google will not remove live content from the search results just because you don’t want it there.

There is an exception to this rule. Google will typically remove content from their search results that is flagged as adult material or in violation of Google’s policies, the law, or Copyright laws.

Google will not remove content that is defamatory or negative simply because you want it gone. They have made it clear they do not want to be the judge and jury of what is true and what is not. Google has even issued a statement on this topic. In Google’s own words:

“Please remember that Google doesn’t own the web; we just help you find stuff on it. If you don’t like something on a website that Google doesn’t own, we really can’t make the website owner remove it, we can only remove it from Google Search results (if appropriate). Sorry!”

In most cases you will need to obtain a court order to de-index negative content from Google or force the original host to remove the content altogether. However, it’s worth noting that Google has the final say in all removal and de-indexing requests. To learn more about Google challenges to content removal, check out our article, “Can I Sue Google?”

Google Removal FactGoogle’s legal landscape and honoring of court ordered removals leaves much to be desired. It is still quite confusing and uncertain whether Google will actually remove online defamation and libel by way of court order. Also, Google is highly subjective when accepting court ordered removals, and looks for very specific, non-disclosed criteria.

FACT: Obtaining a Court Order Can Increase Your Chances of Removing Online Content

Experienced internet attorneys can help you obtain a court order or facilitate talks with authors and website owners to remove content from the search engines. At Minc Law, we have proven success engaging with websites and authors to remove unwanted and unlawful content from search engines.

MYTH: I Have a Court Order – Google Has to Remove It, Right?

False. Just because you have a court order doesn’t mean Google or the search engines have to remove it. Google can deny the order and refuse to comply.

Unfortunately, we have seen this happen before if the court order is not correct or does not include the specific information Google is looking for. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who knows exactly what Google is looking for in a court order.

FACT: Experienced Internet Attorneys Know What Google Looks For in Court Orders

Seasoned internet attorneys have experience drafting and submitting court orders to Google and other search engines. At Minc Law, we have a very high success rate when it comes to successfully submitting and de-indexing content from Google.

MYTH: Suppression is Just as Good as Removal

Not true. Suppression is merely a temporary solution and does not have the same lasting effects as legal content removal. Suppression is never a permanent solution and should only be utilized as a last resort.

Suppression does not permanently hide content, because search engines are constantly changing their algorithms. This means you may effectively suppress content to page 5 of search results on one day, but the next day the content may move back to page one. As a result, suppression is a constant battle.

With suppression, you’ll constantly be looking over your shoulder, waiting for the content to reappear on page one of your search results. It’s a continuous threat, and once you stop suppressing content, it will likely creep its way back up on your search results. Since most suppression service providers charge recurring monthly fees, the cost of suppression can quickly get out of hand.

FACT: All Content Removal Situations Are Unique 

Working with an experienced internet attorney can help determine the right solution for you and your unique situation. At Minc Law, we walk clients through all removal options and costs and are transparent if we think another service provider will better meet your needs.

MYTH: If I Wait Long Enough the Content Will Just Go Away

Unfortunately, this is not how the internet works. If you ignore something or think it will just disappear from your search results magically, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

There is little to no chance content will disappear on its own. There have been some cases, where a website will shut down and the content subsequently goes away, but this only happens about 1% of the time.

FACT: Experienced Internet Attorneys Can Help You Explore All of Your Content Removal Options

Experienced internet attorneys can discuss your options and chances of successfully removing online content. At Minc Law, our attorneys are well-versed in online content removal and defamation. Because we focus exclusively on this area of law, we are experts in what we do!

Cost Saving Tip: There are five factors that influence costs in nearly every case: (1) the amount of customer service you require; (2) the length of time it takes to resolve your case; (3) the amount of evidence, witnesses, and discovery involved; (4) whether your case is contested; and (5) whether mediation is an option.

MYTH: Removing Online Content is Cheap & Easy

Removing content from the internet is not free or easy. The old adage is true, “if it was easy, everybody would be doing it!”

Costs can increase substantially if litigation is necessary to get the content removed. Unfortunately, predicting the exact costs of litigation is nearly impossible, because pricing is dependent on multiple variables. If you’d like to learn more about the costs involved in a defamation lawsuit, check out our article on the topic. We go into great detail about all the factors that impact costs, and how you may be able to save money.

Even if you don’t go the litigation route and attempt to suppress the content, total costs are hard to predict. As previously mentioned, suppression is often an ongoing activity that you’ll have to pay for month-to-month. The costs of keeping content suppressed can even exceed the costs of litigation.

FACT: Experienced Internet Attorneys Are Upfront About Costs

Removing content from the internet is not easy, but experienced internet attorneys have the expertise and knowledge to assist in these seemingly impossible situations.

Minc Law is upfront about costs and expenses and we are transparent so that our clients know what to expect. Providing quality services with budget considerations in mind is one of our primary goals.

Minc Law Can Help With Content Removal

If you’re looking to get negative content removed from the internet, contact the seasoned experts at Minc Law. We’ve successfully removed over 25,000 defamatory, negative, and unwanted webpages and content from the internet.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, give us a call at (216) 373-7706 or fill out our contact form online.

Are you being defamed online? We will get it removed. Contact Minc Law today!

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