I work in the marketing department for my company, Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy. Several months ago it was brought to my attention that one of our employees is appearing on a website called predatorswatch(dot)com. The website is a well-documented extortion website that lists innocent people mixed in with real predators and only removes them if a fee is paid.
Unfortunately, if a user types in our employee’s name (both in regular search and image search), the link to their predatorswatch profile and picture are high on the results. Here are two examples:
Web Search Example, Image Search Example
Ever since we were brought aware of this we’ve been trying different avenues to get the listing taken down, but so far all of our efforts have led to dead ends. We’ve tried contacting Google and they recommended taking legal action. We tried going the legal route, but they cannot do anything because the server is outside the US.
Here is a complete list of what we have tried:
Contacted predatorswatch[dot]com directly to remove false listing
predatorswatch[dot]com said it would cost $575 to remove
DMCA Infringement Claim (for image showing on Google Image Search)
Google claimed that we cannot file this claim because only the copyright owner, or an authorized representative can file a DMCA Infringement Notice. Since it was a third party that took the photo, they technically have the rights to the photo – not our company. Unfortunately, the image was taken a long time ago and contacting the photographer is not possible anymore.
Asked John Mueller during Google Office Hours if they blacklist known extortion websites from their SERP’s.
John said they do not remove listings except under specific circumstances, which this case does not meet. He recommended pursuing legal matters. Here is his full video response: https://youtu.be/EnR-41bGrfU?t=36m56s
Contacted Attorney General office in Oregon
They felt it was online fraud but cannot do anything because they believe it coming from a server outside the US.
Submitted complaint to the FBI online crime department
No response to date
As you can probably imagine this has become quite the headache for our team and we’re at a point where it seems we’re running out of options. It’s kind of a bummer to see people are getting away with this type of activity. Google has made it clear that they’re not going to do anything, and it doesn’t look like we can really do anything legally as well.
Does anyone in the community see any potential avenues that we haven’t tried yet? Any and all ideas are welcome and appreciated.
Our next option that we’re considering is creating a PR campaign around the employee in hopes of pushing the extortion website down on the rankings list. Before we do this, I wanted to check with the community one last time to make sure there’s nothing we’ve missed.
PS. I actually posted an inquiry about this several months back, which can be found here. I also posted the above message to Google's Support Forum (here's the thread). My hope is between these two forums someone will be able to help.