Is there any way to have embarrassing google results removed?
January 24, 2007 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way to have embarrassing google results removed?

There are a couple news stories about me from about 5 years ago that come up if you google my name. They used to be on the 6th or 7th pages of the results, which wasn't so bad, but they were still there. So over the last year I have deliberately created a stronger online presence, using my real name. Now when you google my name, all of these new results come up, which I'm happy with.

Unfortunately, the news reports are still there, and one of them, from ABC News, is on the first page. I've e-mailed ABC to ask if there's any way it could be removed from their site, and of course I got no response.

Any idea why this story would have moved back to the front page from years ago? And is there anything I can do about it?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
No, you can't have the results removed from Google.

If you get ABC to take the stories down, you can use the link on that page to cause Google to take down its index and cache of that page quickly - takes about an hour. But you can't make Google not show you the page if the page is still there.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:37 PM on January 24, 2007

The only way I know of to get Google to un-index a page is to show Google that the site is deliberately and gratuitously trying to manipulate its search results. I would doubt if ABC is in violation.

And even then it is very likely archived somewhere.

You've taken the very best steps you can to defend yourself. (ie: putting better information out there.) A common way to raise a page rank is to link to a page with the search term you want linked. (see Google Bombing) So if someone out there made a link with your name point to the ABC news article, it could have inflated the ranking. If you can find out who did it (they should rank somewhere else in the results) you might be able to ask them to remove or change the link.

You can't do anything about the past. It's going away at one day per day no mater what.
posted by Ookseer at 8:12 PM on January 24, 2007

Ok, so I found this in Cosmo, thus I'm not going to vouch for any validity it may or may not have, but allegedly will erase "e-embarassments" for $29.95 each. Uh, again? This is from Cosmo. Quite possibly not relevant in this instance, just thought it was worth mentioning.
posted by viachicago at 8:31 PM on January 24, 2007

As Ookseer already pointed out, and you obviously know, the only way to manipulate your search results is put better info out there.

Some things to check out:

ClaimID, which lets you list and annotate links that you'd like to associate with your online identity.

Get a LinkedIn profile - like the myspace of the professional world. Classy, great for networking, and my public profile consistently shows up in my top ten search results.

Build a nameplate site, if you can.

The best defense is a good offense, and all that. Good luck.
posted by Famous at 9:04 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

By all means do not go anywhere near Reputation Defender. It will only make things worse, and you'll come out looking even more pathetic. [see also] I completely agree that the way to go is to continue to get positive information out there and linked to, not to try to suppress the bad stuff.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:02 PM on January 24, 2007

I recently improved and interlinked my profiles on claimID, LinkedIn, Technorati, etc. and on my own site. Within a few weeks some started appearing in the top search results for my name, replacing namesakes.

Don't go registering on any site you can find though, stick with mainstream sites you visit anyway, otherwise you'll end up (deservedly) looking like a spammer.
posted by malevolent at 11:38 PM on January 24, 2007

From Reputation Defender's FAQ:

We have no interest in squelching newsworthy speech, and we do not target newsmedia articles for removal.
posted by ootsocsid at 4:28 AM on January 25, 2007

Actually, one way to get results removed is by filing a DMCA violation.. but of course, you have to actually have to be able to prove and define one (although this hasn't stopped some).
posted by wackybrit at 4:46 AM on January 25, 2007

Any idea why this story would have moved back to the front page from years ago?
As others have indicated, if there are more links to that story from elsewhere, it's likely to gain page rank at Google. This could be happening via sites like, which scours the web for stories about individuals and builds a profile of you. You can register at ZoomInfo and edit your profile -- I have not tried it to see if you can eradicate negative links. Similar sites may allow this as well.
posted by beagle at 5:32 AM on January 25, 2007

A friend of mine was successful in removing her name from many websites (including news sites) by persistently asking nicely and explaining her reasons. Her reasons were relatively benign (not wanting to be identified by name as commenting on certain political protests). If you were, however, someone who commited a 'bad' action, then it's much less likely that the news sites will be cooperative. ABC News may even have a policy to never change the contents of their stories, in which case you may be out of luck.
posted by beerbajay at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2007

Actually, one way to get results removed is by filing a DMCA violation.
This could get you sued.
posted by exogenous at 8:55 AM on January 25, 2007

You may want to have a lawyer write a nice letter to ABC to see if they'll take down the page. Megacorps don't seem to give a rats ass about individual complaints, so maybe involving an attorney will have mutually agreeable results or at least get a response from ABC about their policy.
posted by calhound at 2:38 PM on January 25, 2007

You can't change Google results, but with some of the tips mentioned in the lifehacker article mentioned above, you can certainly bury embarrasing Google results.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:23 PM on January 25, 2007

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