Deleting a Mugshot on Google?
Imagine one day you’re sitting at your home or office computer, when you decide to take part in the all to vein act of performing a Google search for your name in order to see what shows up on search results when people search for you name or for information about you on the web. You type your name into the search bar of Google, or the search provider of your preference, and hit enter to submit the query.
Now you are no online marketing whiz, nor a celebrity capable of generating major press coverage online. As such, what do you expect to find when googling your name? Most likely generic information; information about your family, past residences; noteworthy accomplishments, or content pertaining to past jobs or your present career; the type of information that is readily accessible to the public and that public availability isn’t likely to cause any harm; the type of information that very few fuss over it being publicly available on internet searches. When you search Google for your name, however, the type of information you find populating the top of Google search results is not this type of information at all! The title of the first result on Google searches reads “MUGSHOT of YOUR NAME – Your City and State,” the next result down is obviously related to the first, the title reads “Mugshots Online – Your Name – Your City and State”. That’s strange, you think to yourself, there must have been a well know criminal with the same name as me, that lived in the same city that I live in. What a coincidence, huh? You decide to investigate further. Clicking the first page in Google search results, you expect to see a mugshot of some famous criminal, or maybe a criminal recently featured on America’s Most Wanted. Much to your dismay, the inmate whose photographed in the mugshot you found searching your name online is YOU. You’re stunned to see your mugshot from jail prominently displayed at the top of search results for your name.
As if in a movie, your mind flashes back to the moment the mugshot photo was taken; to the hazy memory of your DUI arrest 4 months prior; you recall being pulled over, hand-cuffed and taken into custody by Sheriffs with the city, state or county police department and having your mugshot taken by officers at the station. Your initial shock soon morphs into rage and your mind begins to race. Who would be cruel enough to post such personal information as arrest records or inmate mugshots of you online? How did the creator of this mugshot search site get access to your mug shot from jail? Is is legal for the mugshot search site to be publishing mugshot pictures taken of people while their in the custody of a state or county jail, or federal prison online for anyone to access? How long has my mugshot been on the first page of google and how many people that I know have seen it? Your mind is spinning with anger and frustration as these questions and many others race through your head.
Mugshot Removal, Google Search & United States Law
The problem encountered by our fictitious friend in the scenario above is one that thousands of Americans are being forced to face everyday. As this new breed of attack websites grows in the digital age, it tears down the reputations of countless individuals along the way. What have become known as mugshot search sites, or simply mugshot websites, are the latest type of attack sites to directly target the names and reputations of individual United States citizens. Mugshot websites are still a relatively new occurrence in the online age.
Question: Is it Legal for these websites to profit off of displaying people’s jail photos?
The sad fact of the matter is that since the Freedom of Information Act, the mugshots, names and other personal information of Americans arrested or brought into custody by police or other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are open to the public. This means that anyone can get access to the mug shots of those that have been arrested and booked by law enforcement in the United States. Not only can anyone access this sensitive and potentially harmful information online, but because each mugshot photo taken of inmates at U.S. jails belongs to the State or Federal Government, the arrest mugshot and record have no copyright; hence they can be freely copied, edited, and republished on mediums such as the internet with no requirement to seek any sort of approval or permission.
Question: Doesn’t Google have policies in place to prevent jail mugshots & arrest records from appearing on Google Search
The short answer is, no! Google has no policies governing the creation or publication of content on the internet that prevents sensitive information such as a public arrest record or mugshot from appearing online or in search results. Because current U.S. laws permit the existence of mugshot search websites, Google is unwilling and, in many ways, unable to step in on the side of those that find their mugshot on plastered on the homepage of a mugshot search sit and/or ranking at the top of Google search results, public for anyone with access to a mobile device and internet connection to access and use for any purpose they feel fit.
Removing Mugshots from Google Search Results
So no authoritative power can or is willing put an end to mugshot search websites shamelessly profiteering off the destruction of other’s reputations by putting embarrassing, harmful or otherwise damaging information about them, such as info from arrest records, mugshot pictures or other private information on the web. What, then, is one to do when he or she finds their face appearing in a mugshot right on the Google homepage? Is this simply a scar you’ll have to outwardly bare for the rest of your life? Luckily the answer to this question is NO!
Though you cannot simply request that the website be deleted from Google’s search results; nor can you contact local, state or federal law authorities to request that they have your mugshot permanently taken off internet searches; and any attempt to call, email, write, or have a lawyer or attorney compose a letter to the people behind a free mugshot search website will prove unfruitful; there are ways to prevent a DUI or other arrest mugshot from causing serious damage to your reputation and life. If it’s too late for prevention, and you, like our friend in the opening scenario, have already been victimized by a mug shots search website, you may need to put a little more time, effort or money into it, but nonetheless, there are effective ways to clear Google search results of your mugshot.
What Options Do I Have?
Mugshot Removal Service
Removing one’s mugshot from a mug shot search site, such as Georgia.Arrests.org or BustedMugs.com, before people you know stumble upon it online and it takes a (often serious) toll on your life, career and/or personal relationships requires a fast and strategic mugshot removal strategy. Quick removals of mugshot photos such as this normally requires the attention of professional online reputation consultants. Studies have shown that over 80% of those searching the internet for information on something or someone don’t look past the second page of Google search results. Moving the mugshot search site with your photo back to the fifth page of Google then, will suffice for most people to remove their mugshot from the sight of most internet users. While each case differs, most good online reputation firms will have the first page of search results cleared of any mug shot sites in 48 hours to 7 days, sometimes it can take a bit longer. If you need a mugshot down in a hurry, the fastest and easiest solution is to contact an experienced online reputation management consultant or service provider.
Hiring professionals to take care of the job is the only surefire way to repair your damaged reputation in web searches. If you choose this route for the removal of your mugshot and embark upon the search for an effective and affordable internet consulting firm that can adequately assist you with removing your photo from a mugshot search site, before picking out the first online reputation management service you come across and enlisting their services, set some time aside to do a little research into various online reputation management firms with experience in deleting mugshot listings from visibility on the internet, browse our online reputation service reviews, request feedback from experts on forums or people that have used an e-service to repair their reputation on the web. If you know anyone directly that has done business with suppliers of reputation restoration services, be sure to get their input on what to look for and what to look out for when searching for a online reputation consultant to remove your mugshot from Google.
If you don’t want to spend what can sometimes be a fairly steep price for professional mugshot removal services, you may think about trying to erase the photo yourself. If you decide to take the Do It Yourself approach to deleting mugshot sites from visibility on Google, go in to the project knowing that you may not see results over night, or even over the course of weeks or months, and a lot of trial and error may be necessary for those not familiar with the ropes of advanced internet marketing to work out the kinks, and learn the skills necessary to move search results. I don’t mean to discourage those that want to go the Do It Yourself route, yet at the same time I do not want to mislead my readers into thinking that they’ll be able to effortlessly remove their mugshot from a free mug shot search website over night, or even the course of a couple of days. Quickly and efficiently manipulating search engines in the way necessary to transform first page results for a person’s name, the way a good reputation management service provider is able to, requires online resources, marketing skills and IT knowledge not common to most people without professional experience in some field of IT work or online marketing.
That being, said, the Do It Your Self route to online reputation management or brand restoration can be successful for those that allocate enough time and effort to the project. For the Do It Yourselfer with a tight budget, there are a number of free tools and apps that are available online and can be useful in monitoring reputation on the internet. However there are only so many free tools that can assist in monitoring, managing or restoring one’s reputation on the internet, and the combined power of these free online marketing tools still comes a long way from being capable of pushing back mugshot search sites in most instances. In most cases victims of mugshot search websites need to put some money forth to get they’re mugshot off Google. Whether it be money paid to a reputation management firm or money spent on conducting reputation restoration, SEO and online marketing that is required yourself.
One thing that you can do a no cost is establish good, high ranking accounts with as many of the top social media and community networking Web 2.0 properties as you can, and use the same spelling of your name that generates the mugshot search sites on the front page of Google when you search for it. These friendly Web 2.0 properties will serve to provide competition with mugshot websites on the internet. It’s important to follow certain guidelines and rules of effective online marketing when creating online assets to rank for your name on google.