Everyone has a few photos that exist that we wish we didn’t. With the digital era, now more than ever, a digital footprint is following us wherever we go. When an unflattering, embarrassing, or downright terrible photo surfaces in search results, trying to get it removed as quickly as possible needs to be the ultimate goal. That’s because every time someone searches your name online, that image may pop up.
If you’re hoping to remove the image, there are a few considerations you need to evaluate before you determine how to remove it. To get you started, here are a few questions you need to ask:
Where is this image showing up?
While Google is the most popular search engine, establishing where on the result page your embarrassing image lands needs to be a top priority. There’s a massive difference in discovery when an image shows on the website versus the news category. It’s also essential to determine if your photo is coming up exclusively in the images section of Google. Try to spend a few minutes figuring out the source of the offending photograph before planning on having it taken down.
Where does the picture rank in the results?
As embarrassing as it seems, a bad photo on the 24th position in search results isn’t as bad as the first five links. That’s because most people will only skim through the first page of search results when they enter a term. The position on Google results should dictate how quickly you need to act. The farther down the image falls, the less urgency it requires.
Who Posted This Image?
If you took an image and posted it online, getting it off Google is only a few clicks away. If a friend or family member have shared the unflattering picture, reach out and ask them to take the photo down as quickly as possible. Most of the time, family members are unaware of how Google performs their index, not realizing their posts will be reachable by strangers. When the photo comes from a website or domain you’re not familiar with, it’s essential to proceed cautiously. A friendly email asking to remove the image is simple if the site isn’t intending to be malicious with its content. Should the platform be geared to embarrassing or offending photos, they’ll likely put up a fight.
Can I File a Formal Request with Google?
Google doesn’t like to get involved with embarrassing photos unless that image puts someone at risk. On occasion, they will remove images from their search results (by de-indexing the page in question) if it falls within specific criteria. Their criteria for removal can be pretty challenging to navigate, especially if the website is something like a mugshot search platform. Mugshots, for example, are considered public domain and can be posted and shared freely.
Should you file a DMCA?
The DMCA works within the United States to control copyright materials. Piracy is stealing content online that doesn’t belong to you and is a common occurrence. The DMCA can have stolen content taken down and removed forcibly, but it does come at a cost. The DMCA can’t order public domain information to be removed, as it’s allowed to be shared publicly. Unfortunately, if the image you’re upset about is a mugshot, there’s not much the DMCA can do to prevent that from being shared.
Could I rebuild a better image?
Sometimes, it’s easier to bury the embarrassing photograph. To bury a photo means to hide it lower in the search results, so it’s less likely to be found. For some, hiring a third-party search engine optimization company is the easiest way to accomplish this. For others, using public forums and feeds can bring the same success. When in doubt, talk to a professional company about your best method for hiding the image.