While Google does have a Removal Tool which can eliminate some content from search results, the process is lengthy, which can be particularly frustrating as there are no barriers or time delays for posting new content online.
False or defamatory content and online harassment causes individuals distress, and can damage individual, company and brand reputation. A study last year by Bing Lui at the University of Illinois concluded that 30% of online reviews for certain products that they tested were false…a shocking statistic, although other studies have indicated that a lower percentage i.e. 10% of online reviews are false.
In terms of individual privacy, the recent Channel 4 project, Data Baby, that my online reputation management company, Igniyte, took part in, showed how easy it is to create an individual, and promote related content online. Channel 4 created social profiles and press releases and set up email accounts for a fictitious person. This fictitious example showed how easy it is to rank negative and false content about real people. And if Google are disregarding privacy laws outside of the United States, what are the steps you can take to right any incorrect content online or remove content that you don’t want appearing?
Igniyte work with clients and individuals and suggest the following:
1. Contact websites directly regarding defamatory comments. Check the website’s T&C’s to see if any of the content contravenes their content policy.
2. If the content is defamatory, – it’s worth submitting this to Google’s Removal Tool.
3. Make sure that you own your own social media profiles and check Google for what is ranking for your own name.
4. Set up Google Alerts for your own name – this will alert you if anyone is posting content about you.
5. If you’re facing negative press, use positive PR and press to negate the negative stories.
For more information about how to manage your personal information online download a copy of Igniyte’s free ebook – A Guide to Managing Your Personal Information Online.