Unless you own the content (in which case, what are you waiting for?) getting a negative result ‘taken down’ is actually quite challenging. The website owner doesn’t have to take it down, probably has little incentive to listen to you, and may even miss your email request altogether.

 

For these reasons, getting a negative result taken down is unlikely to work. But if you succeed it can be very effective.

Here’s how you do it. Go to whois.net and find out who the website owner is. Contact the owner by email and request (politely) for them to take down the offending material. I’d suggest going the sympathy route — explain that the material is damaging your reputation and try to show how you’ve changed for the better since the content was published. Whichever route you decide to go, remain polite and remember that if they do help you out, they’re actually doing you a favor.

 

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NOTE: The disadvantage of this method is that it doesn’t solve the underlying problem of having a weak online presence. You still leave yourself vulnerable to other slanderous results if you don’t take actions to build up a positive presence. See #6 for more details.

 

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Court Order: One of the most commonly used legal strategies to remove or de-index false and defamatory information from search results is through a court order. When a website is presented with a court order stating content they are hosting has been declared defamatory by a court of law, the website will almost always remove it expeditiously. In the unlikely event that the website does not remove the defamatory content from their website, there is a defined process to get the link (that leads to the defamatory information) removed from Google.

 

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The most common reason for submitting a DMCA takedown request is if the offending material infringes on your legal rights as a copyright owner. If someone is clearly using your material without permission (photos, written content, audio, video, etc.) you can submit a request by going to your DMCA Dashboard and creating a new notice.

 

Stipulated Judgment: In specific circumstances obtaining a stipulated judgment is the best option for a client. “A stipulated judgment is an agreement between the parties to a case, which settles the case. Such agreement or settlement becomes a court judgment when the judge sanctions it “ – uslegal.com.

 

Mediation: We typically use the mediation strategy in situations when there is a user generated review or “complaint” type website that meets the following conditions: A.) The original poster has the ability to edit or remove their original review/complaint and B.) The individual/company has the ability to communicate with the original poster in some way through the website itself (i.e Yelp). We utilize a mediation specialist to help our clients come to a resolution with posters of negative and damaging content online. More often than not, once the original poster’s complaints are addressed, they will retract negative statements or remove their posting entirely.

 

Stipulated Judgments are most commonly used in one of the following scenarios:

– When a website that hosts user generated content has policies that state once something has been posted on their website, it will never be removed – even in the event the original poster wants to remove or redact false/defamatory information that they posted… Yes, unfortunately, websites are legally able to do this.

– When a poster of defamatory content online has been identified, and they agree to a stipulated judgment – which could be due to a number of reasons.

Obtaining a stipulated judgment is one of quickest ways to get defamatory information de-indexed from Google.

 

You’ll need to be able to identify and describe the copyrighted work, show an authorized example of the work, and provide a URL to the allegedly infringing material.

 

Google gets millions of these requests every month, so don’t expect to get any results unless you can make your case crystal clear. You should also be aware that any request you send will be tied to your name and all requests are made public on chillingeffects.org so think carefully about the risks before you move ahead with this request.

 

It is very difficult to get search results legally removed because people can say pretty much anything they want online. Even if you have a strong case proving defamation or libel, the legal process can cost you thousands of dollars and take many years to settle. The court system is a notoriously difficult place to solve these kinds of problems.

 

If you’re interested in hearing about your legal options, definitely speak with an attorney. Just remember that a lawyer may come back to you with the upsetting news that there is nothing that can be done to take down your negative result — and still charge you for their time.