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How to Eradicated Negative or Harmful Content
Coming across negative content concerning either yourself or your business can seem like a nightmare scenario. From reputational damage to a potential decline in your SERP placement, harmful content can bring a broad range of negative consequences into play.
But while there's no disputing the potential harm this kind of content can cause, it's often possible to go about the removal of such content via a number of channels. The most effective of these are as follows:
Personal Identifiable Information (PII)
When it comes to content that wrongly reveals your PII – such as a bank account or credit card numbers, identification numbers, signatures, official documents and contact information – you can take direct action. Google and other search engines can remove links to such content from their results if notified. To do this, submit a request through their online platforms, providing the necessary documentation and specifying the information you believe to be taken down.
Violations of Community Guidelines
Many websites and social networks, like Facebook and Reddit, have community guidelines outlining the kind of content deemed unacceptable. If something about you or your business falls outside these guidelines – perhaps it's defamatory or abusive – you can flag or report it. Normally, you’ll receive a response after a few days following a review by the content moderation team and the content in question may be removed.
Sometimes, a direct approach is best. If there’s a way you can identify who was responsible for the content and how to get in touch with them, you can ask them straight up to either delete it or alter it. Whether this is effective can depend on the individual's willingness to comply and the nature of the content they've posted.
If the content is a form of intellectual property that belongs to you – such as photographs, written articles, or videos – and it's been used without permission, you can invoke the DMCA in the UK. Alert the website hosting the content of the infringement and they should act to ensure they aren't legally liable for continuing to host it.
Right to be Forgotten
For people in the European Union, the "right to be forgotten" gives every citizen the legal right to request the deletion of any kind of outdated or irrelevant personal data. A formal request can be made to search engines and other websites to take down such information. Note, however, that this right is balanced against the public interest, so it does not apply to all content.
Sometimes, content can be removed with the intervention of a mediator, particularly where negotiations have broken down or aren't practical to initiate. Reputation management experts or third-party mediators can often work with publishers to facilitate the deletion of negative content, potentially leading to a more polished online presence for you or your business.
Sexually Explicit Content
The internet also has measures in place to deal with non-consensual sexually explicit content. Should you find yourself in such a distressing situation, Google allows affected individuals to submit a removal request to have these images or videos excluded from search results, safeguarding victims from further exposure.