The Webcide.com Advantage
We provide services and benefits that other law firms and reputation management companies can’t or won’t compete with. Some of these include:
Experience & Expertise. Our lawyers have years of experience removing content from the Internet and assisting clients with online crises. We focus exclusively on the niche area of law, Internet defamation.
Complete Removal of Content. Most reputation companies only suppress and bury negative search results, we focus on strategies and solutions to completely remove unwanted content from the Internet and search engine results.
100% Guaranteed Results. We offer 100% guaranteed results or your money back for many of our content removal services.
Affordable Flat Fee Pricing. Unlike many other attorneys and law firms, for most of our services, we offer flat fee pricing so there is no uncertainty or confusion as to costs and fees.
Confidentiality & Discretion. Communications is confidential and protected by law under the attorney-client privilege.
Trust & Loyalty. We are not some fly by night reputation company. We are lawyers and are bound by ethical rules. We have fiduciary duties of trust and loyalty to our clients. We represent you and your interests when we take you on as a client. You can trust us to get the job done.
Secure & Convenient Payment Options. We offer the ability to pay by check, credit card, or wire. All funds paid to us are deposited into a state monitored trust account (called IOLTA) until content is removed or our fee is earned.
Actual Legal Representation. Unlike some reputation companies that impossibly claim to have “teams of lawyers” or utilize legal services to remove content, we are an actual law firm, with lawyers that have been practicing law together for over 40 years. Why pay a middle man when you can hire an actual attorney and obtain all the real benefits of an attorney client relationship?
Reputation Management Services. In addition to online content removal services, we also provide businesses and individuals services to protect, monitor, and improve their online image and brand. These services improve your online reputation and protect against harm from future attacks.
Bad things online can kill a brand. It can't all be removed, but some of it can and should be. This guide tells you how to delete negative online content.
Here are a few of the ways online content can be removed - either from the site itself, or from search results - both are avenues to the same outcome - lower, or no, visibility of the negative content online.
Ways to remove online content:
Ask people to delete their content
Remove content at the publisher level
Ask people to change their content
Remove search results from Google
Suppress negative content
Why not remove opportunity killing content?
Here's a fun statistic - 65% of people trust search engines for research. Search engines are trusted more than other sources of information. What people see online about a brand, whether that's a personal brand, company or products and services, is important.
It is critical to ensure that what people see about your brand online paints a favorable picture to potential consumers. Just one negative review or post on the first page of search engine results can be damaging to your reputation, and ultimately your business.
Removing negative reviews
Reviews can be removed if they violate the terms of service for the review sites, but what about non-review content?
Removing search results at the source
The fastest way to change search results is to remove it completely from the website in which it exists.
Removing search results from Google
If deleting content from a publisher (a blog, news site, video channel, etc.) doesn’t seem feasible, or doesn’t work, the second choice may be to ask Google and Bing to remove something from their indexes. But that doesn’t remove the content from the site itself, it just makes it far more difficult to find.
Getting people to delete their own content
First, the bad news. In our 10+ years of experience we've found that a Webmaster will most often not remove online content because - after all - they put it there in the first place. But sometimes they will remove it.
It often comes down to finding what they want. What motivates them?
We've offered people some pretty interesting things on behalf of our clients. We've given to charities in their name, provided direct payment, shown them the error of their ways, or sometimes after cooling down they just felt bad and needed a little nudge to remove it. People are motivated by many things. You might be surprised what works.
Tactics to get online content removed
The following tactics work best for people rather than corporations. Every author is different. If you feel contacting the author to get online content deleted is the right approach, here's a list of ways to get people to take down a blog post, article, video, or other online content:
Appeal to their altruistic side: "You had every right to post that review. I hope I've made it right. At this point the post is really damaging my business - would you mind removing or updating it?"
Try the charity angle: "I see you support the local little league. I know removing the post you wrote might take some of your valuable time. I'd be happy to donate to the _____________ little league in your name or anonymously as a thank you for taking it down."
Take the capitalist route: "I'd like to sponsor the page you wrote about our business. We'll request a few modifications, and you'll be well compensated for your time." Note: Modifications may mean removing the business' name, adding a special meta tag to make Google ignore the page (noindex), or removing the page altogether.
Asking someone to remove content can have downsides
For example, Webcide.com works with attorneys who have made the sometimes huge mistake of sending a legal demand letter to a webmaster only to have the information added to the original page - and then have many people comment on the content - refreshing it and making it longer.
Refreshing the content of the page can make it rise in search results instead of disappear. This is because Google often responds to fresh information by promoting it higher in search results.
Why does content rise in search results when refreshed?
Search engines like fresh content more or less depending on the kind of content it is. News content must be very fresh - it's news after all - and by its nature has limited shelf life.
Blog content less so, but it's still important. Read more about how fresh content affects search results and rankings in this post.
So consider carefully before you ask the webmaster to remove a page. If you think it will come back to bite you later, use another method.
Have content removed at the publisher level
If the author won't remove the content, or you think it is a bad idea to even ask, ask the webmaster or publisher of the site upon which the information lives to remove the page completely. This doesn't work on personal blogs because the webmaster, publisher, editor and author are often all the same person. But it may work on medium-sized sites like local or small town news sites.
To find the owner of a site use a Whois tool like Whois.net or DomainTools. A little research can point you to someone in charge. But sometimes that information is protected by domain privacy. If a website does not have domain privacy enabled, the name, address and phone number of the owner of a website will often be visible.
We are law firm with a creative and collaborative approach to solving problems. With years of experience tackling online defamation issues, we are the best choice to solve your online crises. Contact us today to discuss your online reputation matter.
Why it’s Better to Use an Attorney for Reputation Management
In today’s day and age there are a significant number of companies promising to remove defamatory internet postings. Other companies promise less tangible results such as monitoring your reputation for new reports and managing your online reputation. Many of these offers frequently played on talk radio can sound tempting, but individuals seeking a solution to online and abuse should understand that a certain experience may come with working with a reputation management company.
Additionally there is a distinct level of conduct and behavior one can expect when working with a licensed professional, like a lawyer or attorney, who is subject to a professional code and owes certain duties to a client. Lawyers handle an array of legal practices and procedures every day. Rather than selling a product or a bundle of services designed in a corporate boardroom, a lawyer can recommend only those steps, including legal measures, that are likely to resolve your reputation management issue or defamatory content problem.
Internet Defamation Lawyers of Webcide.com Lawyers Owe a Fiduciary High Duty to Clients
When you work with a licensed attorney, you can rest assured that your interests will be faithfully pursued without interference from other obligations or potential conflicts. This is because the rules of professional conduct, which governs the practice of law and sets forth acceptable conduct for attorneys, have enshrined a strong duty owed to clients in the rules. Furthermore, a lawyer even holds duties towards a prospective client. Any person who consults with a lawyer over the possibility of representation is considered to be a prospective client.
Duties owed to a prospective client under the Model ABA Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.18 include:
Even if the individual decides not to work with the attorney, the attorney must maintain confidentiality, in most circumstances, over anything he or she learned from the prospective client.
A lawyer may not represent a prospective client if the prospective client’s interests are adverse to another interest or matter represented or handled by the lawyer.
You can also check the Contact Us page of the site, or look up employees of the company that own the site using LinkedIn.com.
When you find the right person, try modified versions of the steps outlined in the tactics to get online content removed section above.
Notice that no lawyers have been called yet. :-)
If they won't remove content, maybe they'll change it
Ask the webmaster of the site containing the information to remove the search phrases from the page. For example, if your company name is mentioned on the page and/or description of the page (in the HTML), and/or Title of the page (also HTML), the webmaster can change the words so your company name no longer exists on the page.
Here is an of the "change keywords" tactic: Let's say you own a company called.... oh, let's call it "Enron." And a local publisher writes a story with the headline "Enron CEO Caught Juggling Kittens." You'd ask the publisher to change the headline to something like "Local CEO Caught Juggling Kittens." They'd remove all mentions of the company but the article would still remain.
The next time a search engine crawls the page it will not find the search phrase and should, in time, demote and then remove the search result.
This can work if the article has been up for quite some time and is no longer generating traffic and income for the publisher. Small publishers will sometimes make this sort of change in return for compensation, or out of the goodness of their hearts (rare).
Keep the page but make it invisible to Google
Ask the publisher to add a NOINDEX tag to the header of the HTML on the page. Your company name still exists on the page, but the NOINDEX tag tells search engines not to crawl the page any longer. Within a few weeks, the page is normally removed automatically from search results.
This is what a NOINDEX tag looks like:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
How to remove search results from Google
There are some cases where a search engine will remove information. Here are some examples:
Identify theft or financial harm as grounds for removal
Reputation X has gotten many pages removed due to terms of service violations. This month alone we've gotten more than a dozen pages removed for this reason. We refer to the complete removal of search results from Google as a “googlectomy." Google describes the information they will remove as things like bank account and credit card numbers and signature images, or other information that could cause financial fraud or identify theft.
Sexually explicit information can be removed from SERPs
Sexually explicit information posted without consent will be removed from Google’s index. It has to meet these criteria:
You're nude or shown in a sexual act without consent
You're under age
You intended the content to be private and the imagery was made publicly available without your consent (e.g. "revenge porn"), or ...
You didn't consent to the act and the imagery was made publicly available without your consent
Legal reasons search engines may remove content
Google and Bing will also remove copyrighted information. This falls under the “legal removals” area. It's considered a "DMCA" removal. Google will ask which service you’d like information removed from, for example Google web search, Blogger, YouTube, etc.
Types of content that may be removed include sites with malware or phishing software, trademark violations, and certain kinds of personal information like social security numbers.
Europeans get Right to Be Forgotten, others don't
Personal information will be removed from Google if a web page is in breach of European privacy laws sometimes known as “Right to be Forgotten” laws; if your government ID number or bank account exists on the page; or if there’s a hand written image of your signature.
For copyright infringement use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
The DMCA protects copyright owners. Google often respects this, and they have a removal process for doing so. But we’ve found that using legal means works far more often than a simple DMCA take-down request on their site.
So, yes, lawyers do have a reason to exist (in fact, they’re some of our best clients!).
The Downside of the DMCA: Chilling Effects / Lumen
Google may send a copy of each legal notice they receive to Lumen (formerly Chilling Effects) for publication and annotation.
This means that even though you have something removed from Google’s search results, there will still be a notice at the bottom of the search results page saying something has been removed.
When a searcher clicks on the notice they may see a notice that shows the name of the person or entity that made the request to have the information taken down.
Pushing bad content down, and good content up
If none of the following will work:
Asking the author to take down the content
Asking the publisher to remove the content
Having the author or publisher change the content
Getting a special Google invisibility tag added
Asking Google to remove the content
... then suppressing/pushing down the content so it's far less visible is the way to go.
How does suppression of online content work?
Secret: Suppression isn't so much suppression as it is promotion.
The best reputation management techniques make the web better. Bing and Google rely on users finding their search engines valuable. To do this they return the best possible search results. The best search results are those that most appropriately fit the searchers intent - this is called “relevance."
Suppression, or pushing down negative search results, is the act of creating better content and promoting it to drive negatives down. If information cannot be removed at the source, or at the search engine level, suppression is a viable alternative.
If the firm wishes to handle the matter despite the conflict, the prospective client and the current client must give informed consent, reasonable measures to address the conflict are taken, and if the disqualified lawyer is screen from participating.
Furthermore the lawyer is also subject to duties protecting current clients and former clients. Lawyers owe a duty to act with reasonable diligence under Model Rule 1.3. Furthermore, you can rest easy about communications and your role in the process. A lawyer is obligated under the rules to “promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required…” Furthermore, an attorney must keep you reasonably informed about the status of the matter. If you work with an attorney, you can rest assured that your matter will be handled professionally within the framework of a professional code. Many companies offering similar services are not subject to codified professional standards of behavior and conduct that a lawyer must satisfy.
Lawyers Engage in Negotiations, Arbitrations, and an Array of Legal Functions on a Daily Basis
No two efforts to remove defamatory materials from internet sites is the same. For instance, whether the site posts user-generated content or publishes its own content is an important legal distinction that will significantly impact the strategy to approach the matter.
This is because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act grants broad protections to Internet websites that post user-generated materials.
However, working with an attorney allows you keep all options open. In some cases, a well-drafted demand letter from an experienced attorney alone can resolve a situation where defamatory materials have been posted online. In other circumstances, such a approach may be insufficient and a mediation or arbitration may appear to provide a path to getting the matter resolved.
An attorney can provide experienced representation in any alternative dispute resolution proceedings. In still other situations, it may make sense to file suit against the individual poster directly to seek damages for the consequences of the false and defamatory materials. An attorney can also handle a defamation lawsuit if it is likely to successfully resolve you situation.
Rely on Our Reputation Management Experience
If you have been targeted by defamatory internet posts or other malicious attacks on your reputation, an attorney can provide legal services and guidance. Since an attorney must adhere to high professional standards and must act in your best interest, you can rest assured that your matter will be handled appropriately. Furthermore, an attorney’s broad legal experience preserves all of your options in addressing the defamatory remarks or postings.
We guarantee the removal of the defamatory post from the website in question or you will receive your money back.
When a business or individual is facing the damaging effects of Internet defamation, cyberbullying, cyber harassment, nonconsensual pornography, or any type of online invasion of privacy, the victim is looking to remove the harmful or unwanted content from the Internet and stop online attacks as quickly as possible. In order to do so, it is necessary to identify the perpetrator; unfortunately, the responsible party oftentimes operates anonymously.
Our experienced Internet attorneys and team of online investigative and forensic experts are highly trained in identifying and locating people, organizations, and other defamers that attempt to hide their identity.