How Removing Negative Images Can Protect Your Reputation
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
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:
- The image breaches the site’s TOS, in which case you can report it
- 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
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.
Why It Is Important To Remove Negative Content
In today’s tough global market with so many new companies launching daily in almost every field, brands rely on their reputation, image, and customer relations. These factors are determined by what kind of content associated with your brand is available on the internet. And trust us, you do not want potential customers to see negative content!
Due to a concentrated market with so many options available, modern customers conduct thorough research before buying a product or service from a brand to save themselves from loss. This gives them an overview of the brand they’re considering buying from and builds an image in their mind.
Imagine a customer searching your brand’s name on Google, and the first thing they see is an extremely negative review by someone who never bought from you. This will not only build a negative perspective in their mind regarding your brand, and prevent them from buying, but will completely tarnish your credibility. All these things can impact revenue and ultimately drive your brand under the ground!
Why Is Maintaining A Positive Brand Reputation Important?
Brand reputation has a major impact on sales and revenue generation. As discussed earlier, modern customers decide whether or not to buy from a brand based on its online reputation. And for this, they do proper research, search engines being their primary tool of investigation.
A positive brand image will drive traffic toward your brand, which will potentially lead to sales and higher revenue generation. Moreover, it will build trust among customers, and improve your brand’s overall credibility.
What Is Negative Content?
Negative content can include negative comments, negative engagements, negative reviews, or content that aims to tarnish your brand’s reputation. Such content can potentially be posted by online haters or even your competitors on review sites, social media platforms, or blogs.
Free speech is everyone’s right, but many people on the internet spread hate in its guise, mainly due to their own ill intentions. Negative content is justified if it is based on evidence or experience, and it can even let you know of your shortcomings so you can work on them.
However, the internet is a dark, cruel place, and there’s a high probability that the negative content you find related to your brand is baseless by someone who never reached out to your brand. What’s concerning is that this negative content can drive potential and existing customers away.
Why Is It Important To Remove Negative Content?
Here are some major reasons why removing negative content as soon as possible is extremely important.
#1. It Destroys Your Brand Reputation
Negative content can slowly and entirely destroy your brand’s image and reputation. A few negative reviews on popular review sites are enough to drive your brand’s credibility underground. And as discussed earlier, brand reputation plays a decisive role in a brand’s overall success.
Negative search results or negative content drives potential sales away. This will hugely impact revenue generation. Moreover, these negative results can also destroy your relationship with existing customers as they will think that the brand has lost its credibility. In conclusion, your brand’s reputation will receive a serious blow due to negative content.
#2. It Builds A Negative Perspective In The Minds Of Potential Customers
Another big reason why negative content must be removed urgently is that it creates a negative perspective in the minds of potential customers.
A customer might have heard of your brand, its products, or services or seen your advertisement and decided to conduct their own research. Even if they were first excited to try your brand out, once they come across negative content associated with your brand during their research, it would automatically build a negative perspective in their mind.
This will drive them away, resulting in a loss of definite sales. If this process continues, you might be looking at some serious revenue depletion.
#3. It Majorly Affects the Sales
As a whole, negative content has a major impact on sales. Sales and revenue generation, these days, primarily depend on brand reputation, and as negative content tarnishes brand reputation, it also majorly affects sales.
Negative content not only drives potential buyers away but also impacts existing customers. Once your regular buyers come across negative reviews, it will decrease their trust in your brand.
#4. It Affects Customer Relations
A major reason why you need to remove negative content as soon as possible is that it affects customer relations. This is especially important for new, growing brands still expanding their clientele.
Once your existing clients come across negative comments about your brand, they will develop a doubtful perspective. This may cause them to stop recommending you or buying from you. This is why urgent negative content removal is so important.
#5. It Causes Difficulty In Hiring
Negative content also has a major impact on hiring. You might face difficulty finding suitable job candidates because of negative content. This is because most candidates conduct thorough research on companies before applying for their job positions.
Many hiring agencies have a review section about the brand whose jobs they’re offering. Candidates go through these reviews before applying for the job positions. And if they come across any negative content, which could be about the company’s work conditions or general credibility, it might drive them away.
#6. It Can Result In the Complete Cancellation Of Your Brand
Negative content has long-term effects and can even result in completely canceling your brand. We have examples of many brands in history that were completely canceled due to negative content present against them.
Especially if negative content is present on social media, it is shared at a much greater speed as compared to other platforms. And if you do not take necessary actions quickly, this negative content might even run your brand into the ground.
How Can I Remove Negative Content?
Dealing with negative content is extremely frustrating, especially if the content is baseless, and from a person who has never bought from your brand. These baseless allegations and negative reviews have a damaging impact, so they must be dealt with swiftly. There are multiple ways you can remove negative content from the internet. Here are some that we recommend:
Contact Site Administration
As a first step, you can contact the person behind it if you find negative content about your brand. If you find a completely fake negative article, you can reach out to the site’s admin and try to confront them politely. If you find something on a personal blog that appears on top of your brand’s search results, you can try communicating with the person behind it and reason with them.
In case you are seeing false negative reviews on a popular review site, the first thing you can do is try to request the site’s administration to remove those reviews by giving them proper reasons and evidence. In this case, the site may hide the review by adding a no-index tag.
Or you could reply to those reviews in a polite way so that anyone who sees that negative reviews also sees the brand’s appropriate replies.
Request Search Engines To Remove False Negative Information
Another action you could take to remove negative content from search results is to directly contact the search engine’s administration. Google is very cooperative in these matters. You can request the removal of certain results by giving proper reasons, and evidence.
If Google accepts your request, it might remove or rank the results lower on its result pages. Ultimately, the negative content will be hidden from potential customers, saving your brand reputation.
Take Legal Action
If everything else fails, the last resort for removing negative content is taking proper legal action. Your legal team can send a legal notice to the site’s admin on which the baseless negative content is posted. Your legal team can also try to obtain a court order in which the site’s admin will face criminal charges if the content is not removed within the given time.
You can also request a DMCA removal if the content violates your copyrights. This will completely remove the negative content from the search results.
Negative content seriously impacts brand reputation, image, credibility, and sales. Negative content can be false and baseless negative reviews, defaming news articles, or negative posts on social media.
When potential customers come across negative content about a brand they considered buying from, it drives them away. Negative content can be removed by contacting the site’s administration, requesting the search engine to remove the results, or taking proper legal action.