Anyone who has shared an image they regret knows the fear of resurfacing.
This can be anything from a mugshot to a drunken kegstand at a college party, and unfortunately, revenge porn.
A number of scam websites have been created in response to Americans' growing comfort with sharing intimate photos. Although the photos are not meant for public consumption, they can be shared after a breakup or other unpleasant event. Moreover, these websites are asking for payment to remove the content.
Is this legal?
In this article, we will discuss removing content exploitive removal practices.
What are exploitive removal practices?
A typical scam involves the owner of a website publishing or allowing users to post photos, videos, and other content about their victim. They also require other information, such as their full name, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media profiles. This information is used in order to increase the embarrassment for the victim and to damage their reputation by making the revenge site appear higher in search engine results.
If the victim is willing to pay a service fee to the site (or any affiliated company) they will take down embarrassing content.
This is the business model for a number of scam websites that profit from other people’s misfortunes.
Here is an example of a “company” that uses exploitive removal practices on its own website.
If you are in a situation where you need this information hidden immediately, you may make the mistake of paying this ransom.
However, you must understand that the company will only republish it on another website and request additional funds. NEVER pay a ransom.
The Guaranteed Removals Myth
You should be skeptical of any company that guarantees removal from a particular website. If the company provides “guaranteed removals” they are usually the owners or partners with the website.
Content removal is an important part of your reputation management strategy but it should not be the only strategy. You must provide new content to replace it.
Google is a data aggregate. They grab any relevant content they find focused on your name and if there is no new content, they will only have the negative to display.
How to report exploitive removal practices
According to their policy, Google may remove links to content from Google search results if the content is on sites that require people to pay money directly to the sites or to other agencies to get the content removed.
For Google to consider the content for removal, it must meet all of these requirements:
You are the subject of the content in the submitted URL.
The website is not a business review site.
The website has removal practices that necessitate payment to the site, or other agencies, to have the content removed.
You must be the subject of the content or explain your relationship to the person described in the content.
Step 1. Have you contacted the website owner?
Note: You must contact the website owner before you file a removal request for exploitive removal practices. Select “yes”
Step 2. Select what you would like to remove
You have the option to select what type of content you want to file removal for.
Here are the options:
Personal info, like ID numbers and private documents
Nude or sexually explicit items
Content about me on sites with exploitative removal practices
Content that should be removed for legal reasons
The imagery of an individual currently under the age of 18
Select “Content about me on sites with exploitative removal practices”.
Step 3. Have you determined that the website(s) you are reporting here have exploitative removal practices?
At this point, you are verifying that you have evidence of exploitive removal practices. Select “Yes”.
Step 4. Fill out your personal information
Complete the form to the best of your ability. Once you get to the section to upload a screenshot, upload your proof of exploitive removal practices.
Once you finish submitting the form, you will receive a notification that your request is being investigated by Google.
If you are experiencing a website that requests money to remove content, you can take immediate action.
You can work directly with Google to file a takedown request for exploitive removal practices.