How Removing Negative Images Can Protect Your Reputation

Removal Negative images

Negative images associated with your or your business can have a devastating impact on your reputation. Once an image is posted online, it can be difficult to trace where it gets shared and re-shared. Therefore, it’s essential to remain vigilant and ensure that only positive images of your brand are circulating.

At BRANDefenders, we’re experts at image removal for businesses and protecting our clients’ online reputations. We know how to track unwanted images back to their source, chase down individuals who are re-sharing them, and suppress negative content.

Here’s why image removal matters and what you can do about it.

How Do You Remove Negative Images Online?

The first question is, “what’s in the picture?” Depending on what’s being shared and how it was obtained, you might be able to suppress an image by forcing the poster to take it down. However, there’s often nothing legally “wrong” with an image – but that doesn’t mean it should be doing the rounds online.

The second question is, “where is it being shared?” Removing content from Google Images is often the ultimate goal, as this sources images from a host of other sites and makes them easily searchable. You may need to have the image removed at the source and try to suppress it on Google.

Here’s how to approach unwanted media being shared on major platforms.

Image Removal on Google

 A picture of a tablet with Google pulled up on a browser to search Google images.

Media isn’t posted “to” Google Images. Rather, Google pulls media from indexed pages and provides image search results in the same way as it retrieves text for its main search function. Therefore, unless Google owns the image (which is rare), you don’t approach Google if you want to have a picture or video removed from Google images.

Google does provide an excellent resource for finding sites where the negative content is being shared, as it will link to the host site. This means you can use the search engine to list sites you’ll need to contact if you want the media removed.

BRANDefenders can help you get content taken down. It requires a deft approach, and you need to be thorough. Image removal on Google isn’t something you can do directly. Having all relevant pages de-indexed can minimize the media’s chances of coming up in a search result. You can also suppress content using reverse SEO.

Image Removal on Facebook

Media posted to Facebook can be removed if:

  1. The image breaches the site’s TOS, in which case you can report it
  2. You can persuade the party posting the image to take it down.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that a picture on Facebook won’t have been copied elsewhere. BRANDefenders will help you follow the breadcrumb trail in this case. However, many people share the original picture or video URL, and if the original poster deletes this URL, all traces of it will disappear.

Some pictures breach Facebook’s TOS, for example, indecent or violent pictures. Media containing explicitly defamatory content (e.g., unsubstantiated claims) is also a breach of the TOS. Reporting these will usually result in them being taken down.

Image Removal on Instagram

Image removal on Instagram is more or less the same as on Facebook – unsurprising, as they’re both owned by Meta. Your best policy is to approach the poster and ask them to take the content down or report it if it violates the TOS.

You can’t simply demand to have a picture removed “because you didn’t give your permission to be in it” on most platforms (although Twitter is an exception – see below). We’d have very few photographs if this were a legal possibility! However, at BRANDefenders, we know the best strategies for persuading people that image removal is a reasonable request and in their best interests.

Image Removal on Twitter

In November 2021, Twitter announced that, in most cases, it would prohibit images from being posted without the consent of the individuals in the picture. Exceptions are made for public figures (e.g., politicians) or events like rallies and festivals.

At BRANDefenders, we recognized that this change of policy could play a critical role in helping us with online image removal for our clients. In most cases, if someone is sharing a negative photograph of you or someone at your business without your consent, you can have it removed directly.

This doesn’t apply to non-photographic images, such as a chart showing your business information. This might still violate the Twitter TOS if it uses confidential data, which could be taken down. However, the site’s policy on requiring consent for image-sharing is great news for preventing the spread of negative media about your business.

How BRANDefenders Can Help You Identify & Remove Negative Images on the Internet

A picture of two women looking at and searching images on Google.

BRANDefenders has tried-and-tested strategies to uncover negative media about brands and trace it back to its source. We’re experts at persuading domain hosts and individuals sharing negative images to take them down – the easy or hard way.

A principle worth remembering online is that you shouldn’t attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance. People who post and share media online frequently give no thought to its subject and don’t understand the damage they could do by posting such media. It’s always best to approach with the best intentions and only turn up the heat when necessary.

At BRANDefenders, we know how to do both! Here’s how we treat online image removal.

Step 1: Find the Image

How do you know if someone is sharing negative content online? Rather than waiting to find out, it’s often best to do a quick search occasionally. BRANDefenders can help you put good practices to monitor your online reputation and stop trouble before it starts.

The simplest way to find out is by using a private or incognito browser window and searching various terms involving your business. It’s important to use a private window because your history won’t be remembered – you’ve probably searched your brand plenty of times on Google, and it’ll change its results to reflect your viewing patterns.

You’ll see what someone who has never encountered your brand would see. This helps to find out what negative content is being shared and where.

Step 2: Identify the Host

The next step is to find all websites hosting unwanted media. This takes time. Besides the host that shows up on Google, we’ll also search for websites that link back to that webpage or image URL. It’s best to be thorough if the image remains visible.

Step 3: Request Removal

Next, we’ll help you draft letters to all hosts and parties who shared the image. We’ll take a firm but polite tone requesting:

  • That the image is removed from its hosting platform and the URL is taken down
  • That any page containing the image in a relevant context is de-indexed (so Google won’t see it)
  • That a retraction is published wherever appropriate, confirming that there was no reason for the content to be there

This step requires tact. People don’t appreciate demands being made, so we’ll keep a polite and professional tone and simply show the hosts why it’s in their interests to remove the offending content. Of course, if they refuse, we’re ready to take things further.

Step 4: Suppress the Image

If someone refuses to remove media after a polite request (or doesn’t respond), the next step is to simply force it down Google’s search rankings using reverse SEO. This can be done with text articles and images alike. We’ll help you create and share content with keywords and metadata identifying it as relevant to the image search. The content will also contain more positive pictures that Google will rank ahead of the negative content.

This is also the stage where you go “over the head” of some publishers and contact their host domain. A blogger might refuse to retract an image, but if you can prove to the domain owner that they’re publishing copyright media that they don’t own, the host might remove it.

Final Thoughts

BRANDefenders helps businesses with image removal across social media platforms, blogs, and other websites. If you’re worried that negative media is affecting your brand, don’t let the rot spread – take action now.

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