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How to delete things from the internet: a guide to doing the impossible

This post was originally published on this site

Don’t you wish there was a delete button for search results?

You want to delete something from the Internet:  maybe it’s an article, a picture, a blog post, an account, or a video.  It’s not always easy, but it can be done. So, here’s how to delete things from the internet.

We’ve spent years deleting people’s info from data broker websites with our product, DeleteMe, and we’ve learned a lot. Before we get to our 7 deletion tips, let start with some basic rules of the web.

Web Rule 1:  Walk before you run.  Deletion must be done from the original source before Google will notice.

In this guide, we’ll call the website that’s actually hosting the content you want removed–the original source–the publisher.  Blogs, newspapers, forums, Facebook…they’re all publishers.

Let’s say that someone wrote a really unflattering blog post about you and now it’s showing up in Google’s search results whenever someone searches for your name.  Naturally, you want it taken down from Google.  Here’s the important thing:  Google is not the source of that post; it’s merely letting that post be found more easily.  The post is actually hosted on the blog, which might be WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr, or another popular blogging site. Google does not have the file, nor can it delete the file.

To remove something from Google’s search results, you have to remove it from the original source first.  Once you take down a piece of content, Google and other search engines will naturally filter it out of search results.  However, there is a way to speed up that process:  see point 2 below.

Web Rule 2:  You’ll hit some red lights.  In most cases, websites don’t have any duty to remove anything.

Goodbye, data.

Most of the things that people want removed

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