How to Remove False Information about Yourself on Internet

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remove information from the internetBloggers are usually well aware of the dangers of being accused of libel, and that’s why most independent online journalists are very careful to make sure that everything they write about someone on their blog is backed with documentation and evidence. But when someone writes something libelous about you, you need to be well prepared to fight back hard.

So what can you do? And how can you remove false information from the internet and ultimately remove that info from Google.

 

What is Libel?

In the United States and in many countries around the world, truthful statements about another person are safe to publish. However, publishing outright lies with the intent to defame or injure the reputation of others is illegal.

In the U.S., the victim of libel has the right to bring a civil lawsuit against the defamer. Such lawsuits are usually very expensive and not worth the effort for most people. If you find that someone has published untrue information about you online, there are less expensive and more effective ways to remove that false libelous information from the web.

Beg For Mercy

Before you do anything else, swallow your pride and contact the person who published the information. Locate the contact details on the website if you can, and send a friendly email pointing out why what they wrote is untrue. Don’t call them a liar, just ask them if they wouldn’t mind entering into a friendly dialog with you regarding the issues that were published. You’d be surprised how many of these situations arise out of a gross misunderstanding. Communicating with the other person can immediately clear up any disagreements you may have had, and you may discover that the author is willing to remove the hurtful page. Kindness can often go a very long way to getting what you want.

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Unfortunately, the odds are pretty good that you may be dealing with an unstable or unreasonable individual. They may get obnoxious and rude in response to you, and refuse to cooperate. That’s when it’s time to step it up a notch.

Shut Em’ Down

Before you conduct full-fledged warfare against the offending website, you’ll need to do a little bit of investigating. The first step is to identify the name and contact information for the person who registered the site that hosts the libelous material. Personally I like the Domaintools Whois Lookup because it provides detailed information about the website. The results you get back from a whois search will look like the results below.

The two items that you need are “Admin Email,” and towards the top of the listing, Domaintools also reports the host company in the “Server Data” section as shown here. The admin email listed above is the address you’ll need to contact the webmaster if no contact emails were listed on the website.

Once you know the name of the web hosting company, visit the website and obtain their contact information as well as a list of their Terms and Conditions. Make a list of those terms that you can determine the offending webmaster has broken on his website.

#1 – Report All Terms & Conditions Violations to the Host

If you’ve contacted the webmaster and they are unwilling to cooperate, then the first part of this battle will be firing off as many abuse violation reports as needed. Your first order of business is to report a violation to their web host. It’s important that you find a violation on the web page that goes against the terms and conditions of the host. Most web hosts do not allow libel or copyright infringement.

For example, Hostdime, the web host of the offending site listed above, provides an “Unauthorized Personal Material” claim form. One of the first things HostDime will do when they receive such a report is to “Expeditiously remove or disable access to the personal material that is claimed to be unauthorized.” This occurs immediately! There is no faster way to remove a website with libel on it. All you need to do is find any place on the website where the author makes use of your name, personal information or any other “personal material,” without your permission.

Usually you’ll need to send in the notice via snail mail, so do so as soon as possible. Wait a week or so, and then follow-up with an email to make sure they received it okay, and to let them know that you’re very serious and expect a prompt response. You should notice the website go down within just a week or two.

#2 – Report Privacy or Copyright Infringement To Google

Another approach is to remove information from Google and get that web page delisted from the search engines. Google is the powerhouse of online search rankings, so getting delisted from Google would virtually destroy any chance the offending website would have of getting any visibility. There are specific situations when Google will willingly remove the site from their listings. Those situations include when any of the following are published on a web page:

* Your social security or government ID number
* Your bank account or credit card number
* An image of your handwritten signature
* Your name or business published on an adult content site spamming Google’s search listings.
* Infringement of copyrighted content like text or images

In most cases you can use Google’s web page removal request tool to submit your request to Google.

remove information from google

#3 – Report Any Other Abuse to Google

If the website that’s posted libel about you hasn’t broken any privacy rules, you still have a chance of removing their site from Google if you can find a case of abuse related to Google’s Terms and Conditions. Search the website and try to find examples of any of the following.

* If the site is just spam
* If the site buys or sells links
* If the site is infected with malware or malicious software

If you can identify any of the above activities on the website, submit a report to Google using the Spam Report Tool.

Don’t Give Up

One of the most important things you can do when you’re looking to take down libelous content about yourself online is to be persistent and tenacious. In 2006, a person seeking to libel me sent out my personal information to a mass list of over 200 email addresses. By following the guidelines in this article, I was able to trace down the sender’s ISP, and after submitting an official report for both spam and distribution of private information – the spammer’s ISP issued him a warning and removed his Internet access for a full week. It was very sweet retribution.

Have you ever had to remove libel about yourself from the Internet? What tools or tricks did you use to do it?

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27 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Phaoloo

Nice list. I believe there’s another easy way may help us (just in my mind) that we reserve all the accounts of online services with our name. Usernamecheck.com may help.

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Charles

great site with great info.Improves results.

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Womble

A good starting place would be to moderate comments on your own site, don’t you think?

Aibek

We DO moderate them using mutliple filters. It works well in general, but unfortunately sometimes lame comments like the one you’re referring to can pass through.

Reply

James Withers

What an interesting spin on the subject. Very well researched.

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Roger

interesting… but right now I’m on the other side of the fence. I wrote an article which I believe to be factual but because it presents someone in a negative light they are threatening me to force me to remove the blog post. what are my rights? and how can I defend them before it gets to a legal wrangle?
thanks

Mark O’Neill

As a trained journalist, I can perhaps advise you here.

First, you say you believe it to be factual. Does this mean you don’t have hard evidence? If you don’t have hard evidence that will stand up in a court of law and that article libels someone, then yes, you’d better remove that post immediately. If the person decides to take you to court and you have nothing to back up what you said, then you are seriously up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

Yes you have the right to free speech but you don’t have the right to slander and libel someone. If you are going to say things about someone, you need to have the proof to back it up.

The only exception is satire. Courts have held that you are allowed to satirize other people (the most famous case is when Jerry Falwell sued Hustler magazine and lost) but obviously there are limits to how far you can go.

Since I don’t know the particular details of your post, I can’t advise you in particular. But I would say in general that you need hard proof to accuse someone of anything. Otherwise, you’ll end up in trouble.

Ryan Dube

Roger – while this article was written with the person experiencing true libel in mind, I’ve been on your side of the issue more often than otherwise. I work with a team of researchers over at Realityuncovered.net exposing paranormal-content hoaxers. You can just imagine how angry people like that get when you expose them.

As Mark said, if what you’ve written is backed up with good, solid evidence – you’ve nothing to worry about. Your site may go down for a day or two, but once you talk to your host about it, they’ll put it back online. Secondly, a very big piece of it is intent and awareness. As far as you are aware, what you are writing is true and your evidence supports it. More importantly, it should be clear in your article that your intent wasn’t to smear the person but simply to write about the truth in a factual way, cited by the evidence.

If you’ve done that – then don’t ever let anyone threaten you with libel. Journalists receive such threats all the time. If you’ve researched your work well – you’ve got nothing to worry about.

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Ryan

One thing that’s really worth mentioning here is working to prevent that information from getting online in the first place.

Don’t create accounts on websites on the internet that use anything to do with your real name. I found a lot of awesome information in this book that it’s just amazing how some simple changes can make your life a lot less easier.

A lot of it just boils down to: stop giving out personal information when you don’t need to.

Reply

WOW

All right this is just a pile of bull comments. i count 4 people trying to spam on here. if everyone is so worried about making money they should first remove there thumbs from there asses. second get a job a real job. goto wally world or mcd’s either way its a job. if that still doesnt float your boat then open a business.

BUT DO NOT SPAM FOR OTHER COMPANIES.

affiliates suck. its because of lazy people like you that the economy is crap.

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Declassified

The Google techniques will work like magic on Yahoo. They are infamous since that Chinese blogger incident.

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Ryan Dube

Marcel, I agree – discussions like this are great for future readers to gauge whether or not they should move forward with any action.

Also, in response to Rexxfield, this author (me) is certainly NOT an attorney – however this article wasn’t published as any form of legal advice. It was published as advice for tactics that have been proven as VERY effective in removing libelous information about yourself on the web. If a reader is looking for legal advice on whether or not to sue someone, obviously they should seek the advice of an attorney. On the flip side – there are plenty of effective actions you can take without the need to get an attorney involved. (Such as those listed in this article.)

Thanks,
-Ryan

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cornell

can i sue the website owner if libelous content about me is left on thier website.

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Ryan Dube

Hi Cornell – good question. The impression I get from the stories I’ve read regarding such cases is that the courts are more likely to take your side if you’ve first attempted to work with the website owner to get the content removed. Before you even decide to sue, first send a formal request that they remove the libelous content from their website. If then ignore you or refuse, then you should consider your legal options (with the advice of a lawyer of course).

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arian

hi tanx nice and useful inf
last year i created some website and i didn’t save them on fav as well i didn’t sign in on my hotmail account which was registered with the webhost.. last week when i signed in in my hotmail all the email is gone there is nothing even in deleted folder///
is there a way that i can trace and find my website and blog from my ip addresss?
i mean does the ip keep an history of site we are visting ?
or is there another way to help me ? plzzz

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anne

Hi:
I keep removing information about myself with respect to newspaper reports, I have some interesting legal issues and have had to go to court. I need to get this stuff off the internet. I feel like people can google me and just learn all kinds of stuff which is none of their business.
How does one keep removing it. I was doing it monthly, the same stuff in newspspers.

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Lisa Hicks

I have tried to discover the host of a libelous site using legacytools.dnsstuff.com and one of your suggestions whois lookup. They both say the same firm, ukplc but I have contacted them and they insist the rogue site left them in April ’09 and I cannot find who is hosting it since then. Any suggestions as to what I can do next?
Do you think ukplc are lying, or is it possible to be hosted by a firm who do not show up on one of these online lists?
Without the host details I am stuck. Should I hire someone as I am not good with computers?

Reply

Anonym

Hi,

I have a problem…I used the google removal tool and it worked ok and I was told that the info was removed….but still when I googled my name, the info came up again…I have to say I became a victim of a scammer and joined a yahoo group for victim support last year. I entered there my real name and e-mail without realizing, that all the discussion post’s I wrote in the group and my own post’s, were visible on google..I left the group. I found out this year when I googled my name, that the yahoo group with my real name and Email was visible. I rejoined the group 2x and deleted my post’s. But still there are post’s visible on google by entering my name. I too contacted the yahoo group owner and moderators 2 x and asked to have my details removed, but they ignored me and I received no answer. I don’t know anymore what to do. I requested via google removal tool to have these post’s removed and first they confirmed it was removed, but after seeing the post’s still on google again, I requested again via google removal tool to have them removed and was declined. What can I do here? I feel my privacy is not protected as long as those post’s can still be found and I am worried of ID Theft. Can anyone advise? I am thinking of seeking legal advise and help.
Thanks for any help.

Michael Roberts of Rexxfield.com

If the posts have been removed from Yahoo then the Google results will disappear eventually, it will happen once their system revisits the page where your name previously appeared. Sometimes it takes days, other times it takes months.

Anonym

@ Michael Roberts…

thank you for your reply. I contacted the Yahoo group owner, and asked for my name and Email to be removed and they replied, that they won’t take my name and Email off from their Yahoo group. So I have no chance it getting my reputation back?
What can I do now?

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nancy iannitelli

Some one post my business name and my name on http://www.ripoffreport.com/

It seems this web designer is a criminal trying to get money from people to have their name and their companies name removed

I am a victim that was reported on this site using both my name and my business name it is a made up scam/story/claim about me and my business. If you type in my name or business name it pops up with a report that I am a rip off. Apparently the owner of the site makes money by collecting from those who want their reputation repaired from false information. How can I do this myself? Is this man ever going to be shut down?

Ryan Dube

Hi Nancy,

That’s called extortion, and I believe it’s actually a federal crime. You may want to immediately contact a lawyer because I believe you can collect substantial damages for lost business revenue due to the defamation of your business – and of course I believe he could go to prison for extortion. So my advice – talk to a lawyer immediately, and with the help of your lawyer, contact the FBI and report the crime.

If you live in another country, then I’m not sure and you’ll have to get advice from the lawyers in your neck of the world.

Good luck!

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Vina

I am a business woman whose company has been a victim of a negative and false report with regards to my company’s product and service. I fought back by acquiring the services of http://www.reputation-technologies.com/. They have helped me remove the negative stuff about my company on the first few pages of Google which relived me greatly.

Michael Roberts of Rexxfield.com

Vina, I think you are spamming because within minutes of your post someone named Nikkie left an almost identical posting on my blog:

Nikkie has left a new comment on your post “Online Character Defamation – RUTHLESS, SNEAKY & D… “:

I agree with this article because I too was a victim of online defamation. I used the services of http://www.reputation-technologies.com/ and they were able to remove the negative information about me on the first pages of Google.

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stevengrey

These are all great suggestions but I think the quickest and easiest way to remove false information from Google is to get the service called GoogleNameCleaner. The service is provided by a company called Zallas Technologies which is based in Chicago. I’ve tried the service before and can say that the results were very fast and effective. You can learn more by checking out http://www.zallas.com/remove-bad-search-engine-results-bad-press.html.

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El Di Pablo

Just me, but I tend not to do business with sites that look like they were created from some lame free template site.

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Burble

He spams too he goes to every comment field on digg submissions and posts that url in the comments. Leaves a comment across them hoping to get traffic and visitors for his spammy PAY-FOR proxy software – that you can get a similar app for free elsewhere.

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