This post was originally published November 2, 2017. It was last updated May 24, 2021.

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Maintaining a reputable image on Google is imperative for business success. Whether you run a one-person show or work as part of a larger organization. However, while you’re able to control what you post about yourself, you can’t always keep others in check. This article will walk you through how to remove your information from Google and YouTube. We’ll also talk about how to combat false or misleading claims someone may make about you or your business online and ways you could go about removing that information.

 

A Common Scenario

Let’s use the following example to walk through the steps to remove information from the web.

I have deleted my Facebook account, but it still shows my name and username (which I used elsewhere) when you Google search for it. On YouTube I also deleted my account, but comments that others made still come up with my name attached. I desperately want to delete them, but I do not know how. I didn’t do anything really bad—I just replied to someone on YouTube in the video comments section. But someone didn’t like my reply and found out my name. I suspect it was from Facebook where I couldn’t hide or delete my email which included my username. I guess I better be careful what I say on there. Will everything there be copied and put on the internet, too? I just don’t know what this is all about. Anyways, I got my name deleted from the video comments section by contacting YouTube and the video uploader. If it takes months to delete this from Google cache, that’s bad news for me.

There are several reasons why this person would want their personal information deleted.

  • From a professional standpoint, these false statements could hurt their career opportunities or their standings with their current employer.
  • On a personal level, the person who found their email address was harassing them.
  • From a marketing standpoint, these statements made by the individual could redirect to the company and shed negative light on it.
  • They also have deleted old social media accounts, and do not want to be associated with them or the content found on their pages anymore. 

If you ever feel that you may be in physical danger, your first step should be to contact your local police. But if any type of abuse does not seem to be escalating past a screen, you might want to try these steps first.

 

1) Set your social media profiles to private

If your social media profiles are public, anyone with internet access can find your information, photos, and any other content you post online. However, if you make your accounts private, only those who you allow to follow you will see your posts. Making your social media profiles private is a relatively simple way to keep your information off of public search engines like Google. 

2) Remove it yourself as a webmaster

This would be the best case scenario because you have control over your own website as the webmaster. You can remove pages entirely by removing the actual content from your site, blocking access to the content (such as through a password), or by using a no-index and no-follow meta tag. You can also set it to be no-indexed or no-followed using a robots.txt file, learn how here.

3) Contact the owner of the website

If it’s not your website, meaning you do not control it, contacting the owner should be the first step. Some owners will be reasonable and agree to remove your personal information from their site. Here are a few ways to contact the website owner:

  • Contact us link: Usually at the bottom of the site’s homepage are contact links such as an email address or link to contact them directly.
  • Whois: You can perform a Whois (“who is?”) search for the site owner using Google. Go to google.com and search for whois www.example.com. Look under “Registrant Email” or “Administrative Contact” to find the email address.
  • Host Company: The Whois search result usually includes information about who hosts the website. If you’re unable to reach the website owner, try contacting the site’s hosting company.

4) Remove inaccurate or outdated information from Google search

If the owner of the website will not remove the page but you need to have your name and information removed from Google search, use this tool to help remove outdated information. Remember that Google is really just a big index, so they won’t be able to handle specific page management, meaning that they cannot remove a web page from someone’s website. However, Google can remove the page from their search results, snippets, and cache.

To remove this type of information follow these steps: 

  1. Go to this link.
  2. Type in the URL of the page that contains the content you want to be removed. 
  3. Select “Request Removal”

5) Remove images from Google search

There are lots of ways for you to go about how to remove your information from Google in images that appear in search engine results. For a quick removal, you could start by using the remove URLs tool from Google to remove images that are on your site within hours of submitting your request. If the image doesn’t need to be removed immediately, adding a robots.txt file to the root of the server blocks the images. This will take longer, but it gives you more flexibility and control through the use of wildcards or sub path blocking. When you’re working with images that you don’t originally own, getting in contact with the owner of the site or image is the best route to take.

 

How to Remove Content and Information from YouTube

1) Raise the Flag

Under the toolbar of each video are different buttons that perform different actions. One of these buttons has a Flag icon displayed on the far right (it might be in the additional functions area). This Flag tool allows you to report a video to YouTube for review. When you click on the submission button, it will ask for additional information asking why the video or content should be removed. YouTube will then account for this information and process whether it needs to be taken down. If the video violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines it will most likely be taken down. If nothings been violated, the video might not be removed no matter how many times an individual flags it.

2) Contact the owner of the YouTube Channel

If you have not already, and feel that it is safe to do so, you can contact the person creating the problematic content themselves. You could do this through messaging them directly or by adding a comment in the comments section. There are times where a content creator is unaware of the effect their content is having, and are more than happy to accommodate reasonable requests. The more people that come forward and address their concerns about the specific content, the more likely they are willing to change their content. 

3) Fill out YouTube’s Privacy Complaint Form

If you don’t feel comfortable contacting the offender, or if the offender does not respond to your request, you can take formal action. To formally have the content removed, you need to fill out YouTube’s privacy complaint form. In most cases, YouTube will contact the user of the offending account. Don’t worry — YouTube will keep your personal details private and the offender will not know who submitted the form. Going through this process is mainly for the intent of someone else, you feel, is copying your content or video. Another reason could be if you find their content to be inappropriate or violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Filling out YouTube’s privacy complaint form helps to remove any information from YouTube.

4) Fill out YouTube’s Copyright Complaint Form

If instead your issue relates to a copyright violation, you need to fill out a copyright complaint. This is when your own copyright-protected work was posted without your permission. Filling and starting a copyright complaint form will start a legal process to have the copyright-protected information removed. Before you submit this form, there are 4 things you should be aware of:

  • Copyright Exceptions: Be sure to consider whether fair use, fair dealing, or a similar exception to copyright law applies. If an exception applies, the takedown request would be invalid.
  • Personal Information: If a video is removed for copyright infringement, the name of the copyright owner will be visible on YouTube in place of the video. Some of your personal information might be shared with the uploader of the video when resolving the copyright strike.
  • Scheduled Requests: You can schedule takedown requests to take effect after 7 days. Scheduled requests notifies the uploader and has 7 days before the content gets removed.
  • Non-Video Content: For content that doesn’t have any video content in it, this webform doesn’t support non-video takedown requests such as channel icon images or descriptions.

 

Additional Areas to Remove Your Name and Information From

Besides platforms such as Google and YouTube, there are a variety of media platforms you can remove your information off of. This could be social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Or it could be everyday platforms such as email accounts, shopping sites, or data collection sites. Having your information secure and protected keeps you safer.

For most of these accounts, to remove, edit, or delete your information, you can go to account settings and look for different options and settings. Depending on the account, you may find these settings under security, privacy, or something similar. These settings could be to deactivate, remove, edit, or close your account. Whatever your preference may be, when you’re done using a certain application, protecting your information through these actions will be the safest route to take rather than leaving them out in the open for anyone to take over time.

 

Removing My Information from Google While Maintaining Your Search Engine Presence

What you say online will show up in Google search results whether you post on a web page, on a forum, or on a YouTube video. These comments, file uploads, or digital discussions will stick around, sometimes long after the event in question. Be sure to think critically about what you put online. While there are ways to remove your information from Google and YouTube, what you post is there to stay.

If you want to increase your web presence to rank ahead of negative reviews and content, you need to implement an SEO strategy. Good SEO can help you or your company stay above the competition and get your website more traffic. Learn more about how we can help your business today with our small business SEO services!

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Colton is the Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He has been a part of Boostability for over 7 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at www.coltonjmiller.com where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.

10 Comments

  • Josh, May 5, 2015 @ 9:05 am

    “Do I want this comment associated with my name.” That is the question. I only hope that people will not let the fear of political, professional, or other forms of retaliation silence them from speaking out online about issues they feel are important (even if controversial). The realization that what is written or posted online is very hard to get rid of can be a powerful deterrent from doing stupid things, but it can also serve as a weapon in the hands of people of ill intent against those who simply have differing opinions about social or political issues of our day. I would be very interested to hear from others about what their views are on how to be true to yourself online without crossing those lines of stupidity. Catch 22 or delicate balance?

  • Jamison Michael Furr, May 5, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

    Very well put, @disqus_BkikKRpjfe:disqus. I think it is very important to still express your opinion and stand your ground on issues that you’re passionate about. I think one big key is whether your using a personal account or a business account, and if you are using a personal account, how strongly linked it is to the business.

  • Maria Williams, May 5, 2015 @ 4:02 pm

    I agree with both of you and I think is important that to keep in mind that if you use your business account it can affect your business. I believe that we have to be smart on what we say on the internet.

  • Dave Barrington, May 8, 2015 @ 4:11 pm

    One of the first lessons I learned when I started posting things online was “Don’t Feed the Trolls!” It’s sad that there are so many people out there who seem to have nothing better to do than mock, bully, and ridicule people who express an original thought. The said part is you never know when a troll will take a benign comment and make your life miserable. Thanks for a great set of tools for when all else fails!

  • Dave Barrington, May 8, 2015 @ 4:11 pm

    How to start a fight online:
    Step 1– Express an opinion.
    Step 2– Wait.

  • Caz*, May 10, 2015 @ 10:19 pm

    It often seems to be that way doesn’t it. Thankfully we don’t have a big problem with trolls here!

  • Jamison Michael Furr, May 11, 2015 @ 1:56 pm

    Sometimes it’s even sadder to me that so many people feel the need to “feed the trolls” as you said. I mean, I get that it’s tempting, but people are kidding themselves if they think it’s going to have any kind of positive effect or change their minds.

  • debbie kilpatrick, August 17, 2015 @ 3:16 am

    I had an issue from my gf ex hubby slandering me online. It was bad and was keeping me from getting a job I think. I found a service that pushed it off of the first page. Cost me under 1000 bucks. I guess they can’t remove but can suppress it and push down to deeper pages. You can find them on google search of Arizona Website Experts.

  • Andrew Williams, November 19, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

    Good article Jameson, It is amazing how many people (trolls) sit on the internet all day, and get in fights and bash other people’s comments. Get a life! Am I right? I just ignore them even though I want to fight back. I don’t want to give them the satisfaction that they got under my skin.

  • Caz*, November 22, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

    I go back and forth with this all of the time. It would be so much better if I could run one account that any friend or coworker could see without any problem. While I have nothing to hide, I think the reason I keep a separate business account is primarily for my friends and family members who don’t want to constantly see me blabbing about how awesome Marketing is. 🙂

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