It’s a scenario more common than anyone might think: someone’s mugshot showing up in a Google search. This can not only be humiliating for that individual, but can also be damaging to their reputation and harmful for their family and friends.
Luckily, there are ways to remove a mugshot from search results. Read on and learn how to delete mugshots from the Internet and why they end up there in the first place.
Why mugshots end up online
Simply put, mugshots are public records, accessible to anyone. Therefore, publishing them online is not illegal in most states.
There are several online databases that are host to thousands of mugshots. These platforms might be the reason most mugshots can easily spread across the Internet.
Even though many of these sites claim to be a “news and information” service, the truth is, in most cases, publishing a mugshot is just good business.
Dangers of mugshots published online
Even if one was never found guilty of, or even charged with, a crime, the resulting mugshot can have lasting and irreparable impacts in several ways.
Not only is one’s reputation and personal relationships affected, but one could also be fired from a job, lose potential opportunities, or even be unable to secure housing. If one happens to own a business, for instance, news of an arrest could severely affect sales and partnerships.
How to remove mugshots from the Internet
Bottom line, the longer a mugshot circulates on the Internet once published, the harder it will be to get rid of it. Acting fast is imperative to the success of getting it removed.
1. Contact the webmaster
First of all, the best chance to get a mugshot removed from wherever it’s published is to contact the website owner directly and politely request the image be taken down.
To find website contact information, details may be provided on the site itself. Also, domain ownership can be searched using Whois.com. If the site owner is unable to be reached in either case, the site’s hosting company can be contacted.
Some websites may have specific terms and conditions when it comes to removing images, so make sure any removal policy is read over carefully. The request should also be expressed in a clear and professional manner.
In some instances, it might be possible that one is expected to pay to get a mugshot removed.
2. Send an “Image Removal Request” to Google
If online publishing of a mugshot presents a significant privacy risk, Google can be contacted. To send a removal request to Google, just choose the type of request you’re making, fill out the form completely, and then submit it.
However, don’t be surprised if they can’t help. Google’s removal policies are strict, and it’s likely that they won’t remove the mugshot unless it violates particular guidelines.
Also, keep in mind, this removal request only applies to Google search results. If the mugshot still exists on the website where it was originally published, it remains online.
3. Bury the mugshot in positive search results
If the previous steps didn’t work, another option is to try to bury the negative search results. What that means is, new content is created that ranks higher than the mugshot.
Google search results that present first are results deemed most relevant for a user. To determine that relevance, algorithms look at factors like keywords, authority and usability of pages, quality of content, expertise of sources, and a user’s location and settings.
The page that hits the most of these factors is ranked the highest, and therefore, one could try to create new content on high-authority pages. Here’s what can be done:
- Create public social media profiles on well-known platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, etc.)
- Create a new Wikipedia page, including images
- Gain positive media mentions, including images, on high-authority websites and publications
While the mugshot itself won’t be removed in this case, it could be buried so far down the search results that no one will ever see it.
4. Expunge your criminal record
In some instances, it can be possible to get a criminal record expunged. This means selected or listed arrests and convictions will be removed from it entirely.
It also means that the mugshot associated with any arrest or conviction will also be deleted.
When expungement eligibility is determined, one can file a petition with the court that heard the original case. Once the process is finished, the mugshot will be removed from public records.
5. Hire a data-removal service
As time is of the essence in this situation, your best option to secure your online data might be to get help from the experts instead of trying to do all of it on your own.
DeleteMe removes personal information from data-broker sites, and other publicly available database websites, to prevent it from being used, shared, or sold. Anywhere sensitive data is published online, DeleteMe privacy advisors can determine if it can be removed.
Keep your information safe in the long run
Removing a mugshot from the Internet can help clear a reputation and improve quality of life
But it’s important to remember, deleting existing images from the Internet isn’t enough to protect your digital privacy. If information isn’t prevented from ending up online, images and other personal information can likely keep reappearing.
Signing up with a data-removal company like DeleteMe could potentially stop a mugshot from being published online before it ever happens.
Keep your information safe in the long run, and regularly monitor what is already out there to minimize the digital footprint you leave behind.