Removing Slanderous & 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 online, especially when you know it isn’t true. Thankfully, you can take steps to remove online defamation from appearing on Google search results pages. But first, let’s discuss what is and is not considered defamation.
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 did not, you saying someone stole money from you when they did not, etc.
Defamatory content and slander 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 it could potentially backfire and damage 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 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 your private personal information.
Typically, you can submit a removal request through Google or 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 their reputations and bottom lines. If someone makes a false statement about services rendered in online reviews, you can contact Google to remove the slanderous content.
In extreme cases of libel, you should contact an internet defamation attorney specializing in this area of law.
Why Removing Defamatory Content from Search Engines is Important
Defamatory content can rank well in search engines, meaning users 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 or slanderous content about you or your business online can quickly turn on the panic alarms. Don’t fret! You can take four steps 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 allows you to review the posted information 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 harmed you. You can proceed to the next step if you do not get a response or an agreement that they will voluntarily remove the defamatory content.
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 thesecond page of Google searches.
New websites and social media accounts that use the same terms as those used in the libelous content will help your content rank higher than 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 to the final step to try to remove slander from Google.
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. 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, like 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.
There are multiple avenues you can go when dealing with defamation. Different options are available when handling slander and libel, from swift and direct communication between parties to strenuous legal action.
If you’re stuck dealing with the repercussions of defamatory content, consider hiring a reputation management agency. 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.