Q&A: How to remove negative news articles
In this article, you’ll find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about dealing with and removing negative news articles - including reporting on court cases - and defamation. If you’re worried about your reputation being damaged by newspapers and media outlets, you’re not alone. Internet Erasure has helped hundreds of people just like you rebuild their personal image following bad publicity.
General news reports
What’s the difference between libel, slander and defamation (of character)?
Libel refers specifically to published defamatory statements, while slander describes spoken claims. As it’s written, libellous defamation is considered permanent, while slander is viewed as temporary in the eyes of the law. Defamation (of character) is the umbrella term encompassing both types of damaging statements.
Are newspapers allowed to print your name?
Generally speaking, UK newspapers can print your name without permission as long as their reporting is accurate, non malicious and in line with press standards. For criminal cases, they cannot publish your name until you’ve been charged unless you are wanted in connection with a crime. When running a story, journalists will also often include your age and partial address. These additional details protect people with the same or similar names from defamation. While you may not be able to stop a newspaper from printing your name in the UK, there are steps you can take to remove damaging and inaccurate stories. These include complaining to press standards authorities IPSO and Impress, you must do this within 12 months of the article’s publication date.
How to stop a newspaper printing a story?
Contact the editor directly if you want to stop a newspaper from printing a story. Keep in mind that blocking a report can be difficult as there are very few legal grounds to do so. However, you may be able to prevent negative news articles from being published if you can prove they’re inaccurate, slanderous or in breach of IPSO’s Code of Practice or Impress Standard’s Code.
How to get a news article removed from the internet?
If a news report breaches press standards, you may be able to get it removed by contacting the publisher directly. You may also be able to remove news from Google and other search engines. Take a look at our free guide to find out how. Sadly, removing negative content from the internet can be difficult given legal loopholes and nuances. If the article is inaccurate and has caused damage to your reputation, the right to erasure is a legal mechanism that could help.
Reporting on court cases
Will my court case be in the papers?
In the UK, your court case may be reported in newspapers under the principle of ‘open justice’. This is the idea that the justice system should be transparent and in the public domain. As such, journalists are encouraged to attend and report on legal matters in the Crown Court. Whether your name will make the press depends on the publisher, though. If they consider it newsworthy and in the public interest to know, it’s likely your court case will end up in the papers.
Can you stop a court case going in the paper?
In view of press freedom and the public right to know, you generally can’t stop legal proceedings going in the paper. During the pre-trial stages, you may apply to the court for a reporting restriction - a legal mechanism that prevents journalists from covering your case. However, the media and prosecutors often object to this as it goes against the idea of open justice. When considering the application, the court will balance your right to privacy against the public’s right to know.
Do all Crown Court cases go in the paper
Most Crown Court cases may be reported in newspapers, but there are exceptions. For example, defendants under the age of 17 are entitled to anonymity as are victims of sexual assault. Journalists may choose to not cover these stories to avoid legal problems. A reporting restriction automatically applies for teachers accused of committing a crime by a pupil at the same school. If they’re found guilty, this restriction is lifted and the court case may appear in newspapers.
Dealing with defamation
How to deal with defamation of character?
Staying calm and collecting as much evidence as possible are the best first steps to deal with defamation of character. If you’re a victim of libel (written defamation) take screenshots or photos of the content. To be considered defamation, you’ll need to prove the claims were false and made with malicious intent. They must also identify you and be published by a third party, such as a newspaper, website or social media platform. As well as contacting a lawyer, it’s worth getting in touch with the author, requesting they remove or retract their statement. The right to be forgotten is also another legal pathway you can take. This may help you remove defamatory links, articles and photos from search engines. Check out our earlier article to learn more about slander and libel in the UK.
Is it illegal to ruin someone’s reputation?
In the UK, ruining someone’s reputation is not illegal. Instead, it’s considered ‘defamation’ when false statements are knowingly made about someone else with the intent of damaging their reputation. Under British law, defamation is not a crime but is classed as a ‘tort’ - a wrong in civil law that may require the defendant to pay compensation for damage caused. It’s important not to confuse defamation with freedom of speech. For example, expressing a negative but honest opinion about someone is not a civil wrong, even if it does ruin their reputation. This is why taking legal action as a victim of defamatory statements can be a challenge. The right to be forgotten is often a simpler legal pathway to rebuilding your reputation.
What can I do if someone makes false allegations against me?
If the false allegations against you were published on a third party website and have caused damage to your reputation, you may be able to sue for defamation. You would need to prove these accusations were false. The Defamation Act 2013 outlines the situations in which you can take someone to court for ruining your reputation. If you win your case, the judges may formally order the defendant to pay compensation and retract their accusations. Suing someone for defamation can be challenging, costly and time-consuming. The right to be forgotten is a simpler alternative that may help to clear your name.
Removing content from Google
How do I stop my name from appearing on a Google search?
If you want to stop your name from appearing in Google search results, you can request content be removed. You can’t request Google block your name from its search results, though. So, you’ll need to make a specific request for each bit of content that appears with your name. Your right to do this is enshrined in Article 17 of GDPR laws, also known as the right to be forgotten. Keep in mind, though, that removal is not guaranteed as the content will have to fulfil certain criteria to be eligible. You may need to prove that it is out of date, irrelevant, excessive or inaccurate. Given this can clash with freedom of speech and public right to know laws, content removal requests often fail. If you’re unsuccessful in removing content, get in touch with us. We’ve helped over 600 people rebuild their reputations by removing damaging content from search engines.
How to remove personal information from Google?
Filing a content removal request is just one of several steps you can take to remove your personal information from Google and other search engines. As mentioned previously though, strong legal arguments, supported by evidence may be required. If your private information is published online, consider contacting the website owner to request they take down this content. If they do, you can then make a request to Google to deindex that specific piece of content. While this will eventually happen automatically, it may take a few months to disappear from the search results. Therefore, it’s best to submit a request. There are simple measures you can take to prevent your private information from appearing online, too. It’s a good idea to make sure your social media accounts are set to private and to opt-out of data brokers and people searching sites.
Your right to erasure / right to be forgotten
What is the right to erasure / right to be forgotten?
The right to erasure, also known as the 'right to be forgotten', is a legal provision under Article 17 of GDPR. In the context of negative news articles, it gives you the right to request they be removed from search engine results pages when your name is searched. You can read more in this article.
When can I use the right to erasure to remove news articles from the internet?
The right to erasure may help you to block unwanted and damaging search results. Exercising your right to erasure can be tricky though. The law is full of loopholes, nuances and complexities that newspapers and media outlets can exploit to keep their stories online.
How can Internet Erasure help?
Using your right to erasure is challenging because of press freedoms and the public right to know. This is where Internet Erasure comes in. Our team of privacy lawyers are experts in removing negative news articles, having taken down 25,000 damaging stories, links and images from search engine results pages over the years. Contact us to see if we can help rebuild your reputation.
What our clients say
“I’ve had an unwanted article on Google that was damaging my reputation and was preventing me from getting decent jobs for years until I came across Internet Erasure…A few months later the article was removed and I couldn’t be any happier. I would just like to thank…these guys are the best in business” - Review from Trustpilot.