How to Remove Slander from Google

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Removing Defamatory Content from Google

In today’s technologically advanced world, it’s unfortunately all too common to come across internet defamation from time to time. Whether it be a slanderous new headline, opinion piece, or video, no one wants to see defamatory content on Google when they search for their name or business name online.

This type of content is upsetting to see online, especially when you know it isn’t true. Thankfully there are steps you can take to remove online defamation from appearing on Google search results pages. But first, let’s discuss what is and is not considered defamation.

defamatory content from Google

What is Defamation?

Defamation occurs when someone either speaks or writes inaccurate statements about another person’s character, directly damaging their reputation. The reputation damage done can hurt someone’s chances at future success and force them to forgo future opportunities, too.

Examples of defamation: someone being recorded publicly saying that you hurt them when you, in fact, did not, you saying someone stole money from you when they did not, etc.

Defamatory content could take place on several websites online:

  • review websites like Google My Business, Yelp, Amazon, or Tripadvisor
  • social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok.
  • news articles, publications, and online journals

Elements of Defamation:

  • A false statement
  • A published statement
  • The statement caused injury or damages
  • The statement was made matter-of-factly

Without these core elements, it may be difficult to prove any defamation has occurred. If you find out someone has been spreading false accusations about you or your business and there is proof of a false statement, there are certain actions you can take to clear your name both in private and legally.

What is Not Considered Defamation

The main element of a defamation case is that a false statement was made. If what the other party said is true, it’s going to be nearly impossible to have that content removed and could potentially backfire and hurt your reputation even more.

If you cannot prove slander and libel and need reputation help, consider hiring a reputation management company. They will be the best experts at understanding your story and determining the best strategy to clear your name online.

What is Considered Defamatory Content Online?

The good news is that any wrongfully published statement online that has caused harm, damages, or injury to one’s character is considered defamatory. This includes social media posts, online publications (no matter how small), and even podcasts and videos.

Internet defamation removal can be done for both individuals and businesses depending on the situation. It’s best to first determine which situation applies to you.

Defamatory Content Towards Individuals

The most common slander situation is defamatory content made toward individuals. This could be a viral tweet spreading lies about you, an opinion piece with false accusations, and more. This type of libel is especially dangerous if the statement includes private personal information about you.

Typically, you can submit a removal request through Google, or better yet, ask the poster to take their post or comments down and settle the matter offline.

Defamatory Content Towards Businesses

Defamatory statements made toward brands and businesses can seriously hurt not only their reputations, but also their bottom lines. If someone makes a false statement about services rendered, specifically in online reviews, you can contact Google to remove the defamatory content.

In extreme cases of libel, you should contact an internet defamation attorney that specializes in this area of law.

Why Removing Defamatory Content from Search Engines is Important

Defamatory content can rank well in search engines, which means users online can easily see this content about you or your business online. This can quickly harm your reputation if you don’t catch it quickly.

People are naturally drawn to interesting, engaging headlines, especially if a headline makes the news cycle. Because headlines in the news draw so much attention, (and therefore a lot of clicks) they rank highly and can cause a lot of damage to your reputation, especially if they make it to page one of Google.

Steps Involved in Removing Defamatory Content from Search Engines

Finding defamatory content about you or your business online can quickly turn on the panic alarms. Don’t fret! There are four steps you can take today to correct any libelous information you may have come across.

Step 1: Reach out to the site owner

You’re probably asking yourself, “Now how do I remove slander from Google?” and believe it or not, your best bet is to reach out to the site owner.

This is always a good first step. It gives you a chance to review the information that was posted and provide evidence of the contrary. If it’s an online news publication, maybe the reporter didn’t get truthful or reliable sources before writing the piece and you can discuss edits with the editor.

Or, perhaps you can simply ask them to remove your name or business name from the headline and explain how the content has been harmful to you. If you do not get a response or an agreement that they will voluntarily remove the defamatory content, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Suppress Defamatory Content 

To stop this damaging content from appearing, you can use suppression of negative content. Consider creating a new website, blog, or social media accounts to rank above the content, pushing it down in the search results and onto the second page of Google searches.

New websites and social media accounts that use the same terms as the terms used in the libelous content will help your content rank higher than that of the slander. This is a great strategy for owning and managing your brand terms online.

Next, you’ll learn how to request content removal through Google specifically.

Step 3: Request Removal Through Google

Google has made it so that you can report libelous and defamatory content that shows on any of Google’s products. 

First, go to: https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en. This is Google’s troubleshooting page for filing takedown reports. Then, choose which Google product the defamatory content in question shows on. If defamatory content appears on multiple products, file separate reports for each.

Now you’ll be able to choose from multiple options depending on your situation. For our purposes today, we’ll choose “Other Legal Issue > Defamation.” 

Finally, click “Submit Request” and you’re all set! If this doesn’t work, you can move on to the final step.

Step 4: Filing a Defamation Lawsuit

Going through the legal process can motivate even the most stubborn offender to reconsider their content takedown refusals. Hiring an attorney that specializes in defamation will help you achieve compensation for damages and monetary loss from the libelous content. Plus, building a strong attorney-client relationship will help you find the perfect angle to solve your case as efficiently as possible.

Your attorney can help you obtain an injunction, which is like obtaining a court order, that tells the offender to stop producing defamatory content and to take down existing defamatory content on the plaintiff’s behalf. This notice informs the offender about the damages incurred and is a step taken before suing to prevent further damages.

If the offender still doesn’t take action to remove the slanderous content, it’s then up to you, the plaintiff, to decide on whether you’d like to file a lawsuit.

In Closing

There are multiple avenues you can go when dealing with defamation. From swift and direct communication between parties to strenuous legal action, there are different options available when handling slander and libel.

If you’re stuck dealing with the repercussions of defamatory content, consider hiring reputation management professionals. They’ll be able to plan a roadmap to getting your reputation back in the good graces you had previously in as little time as possible.

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