Reputation management is a growing industry on the
internet. Don't be fooled by the promises you see on their websites; there's only
so much they can actually achieve in terms of presenting a positive
image of you. This actually depends on one person: you.
Hello, I'm an internet expert. I can help you build
your brand online and bury all bad news about you under a huge pile of
positive blog posts and articles.
My amazing SEO skills will see you right!
Okay, well, there's an article about me in a national
newspaper that I want to make disappear from the search results on my
I'm worried that it might come up at any
job interviews I might be invited to. Potential employers might not
hire me if they see it.
No problem! The EU has a right to be forgotten law; I'll use that to
make the search engines remove the link to the article from their
A few weeks later...
I looked up my own name in the search results and the negative article
is still there. In fact, there are now more mentions of it; some other
papers and blogs have picked the story up and are commenting on it —
and my efforts to get it offline.
Ah, well now I never said I'd get the article itself
offline, sir. The right to be forgotten only gets the link to
particular blog posts, etc. off the search engines. They actually
The newspaper doesn't want its rankings affected so you may find they've posted the link on a new page.
That doesn't explain why the other papers and blogs
have picked it up. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is talking about my
Now thousands of people all over the world are making fun of me. You haven't made it disappear, you've made things worse!
Oh, dear lord, you didn't try to get the story taken off the search results, did you?
Aren't you one of those rude people who are mocking me on their blogs?
I'm trying to make this whole thing go away so I can get on with my
life. I tried using Right to be Forgotten but that's just spread the
story everywhere because people are saying it's a freedom of speech
issue. Why do you need to know about that stupid thing I did ten years
Well... sort of. You see, getting one link off the
search results doesn't get them all off. Every page uploaded to the
internet creates a link.
So if someone comments on a story being removed because the subject
finds it embarrassing, they'll link to it to provide evidence to back
up their argument. This creates more links to the original story.
Very well, then, you leave me no choice. I'm going to sue you and all
the other bloggers, etc., for libel, slander, and cyberbullying!
And since Google controls what goes on their search engine using their algorithms, I'm going to sue them too!
I see. Have you considered the fact that this is newsworthy and therefore more papers and blogs are going to write about it?
This will, of course, bring that embarrassing story back into the public eye. Is that what you want?
The best thing you can do right now is think about the image of
yourself you want to project, then act accordingly. We all foul up,
it's what we do afterwards that counts. Proving you can learn from your
mistakes is much more impressive than pretending you've never made any.