We’re Business as Usual During COVID-19

You don’t need us to tell you that these are crazy times. You probably also don’t want to read your 1,000th “COVID-19 update” of the week. So let’s keep this one brief.

Like everyone, at Removify we’ve had to adjust. Our team has been working from home since the middle of March, and fortunately as a tech-driven company this was a seamless process for us. We had already performed “test runs” during the last Christmas & New Year holiday period, and our internal systems do not rely on our team members to be in the same room whatsoever.

The only impact to our operations have been “downstream”, while we wait for some of the publishers we work with to catch up and respond to our queue of requests. For example, Google has moved a significant portion of its workforce to remote work. This caused some initial downtime, however we are...

But aren’t bad reviews there for a reason? They help warn other people about poor business practices.

Yes exactly, that’s the idea – reviews (good and bad) are there to help other people make an informed decision about potentially using that business. Reviews that do that are exactly what the review platforms want, so those are the reviews that safely stay up for all to see.

This question is often based on the common misconception that our services will indiscriminately remove any and all negative reviews for a business in exchange for a fee. In fact, that’s not at all how it works. The review platforms themselves are responsible for deciding which reviews will be removed, and they will only remove those that are deemed to be in violation of their own policies. What we do is present a detailed submission to the platforms, asking them to analyse specific reviews and make their own determination on whether it should stay up or come down. Our success is...

If you are removing all of a business’ bad reviews, how can I trust any reviews now?

First of all, Removify would not be able to remove “all” of a business’ bad reviews unless they could all be proven as being bogus or in violation of the publisher’s policies. For a business with a lot of bad reviews, unless it has been mercilessly attacked by trolls or competitors, many of the reviews will be legitimate and therefore not eligible for removal.

Trust is definitely an important factor to consider when reading reviews. It would be great if we could trust them all, but unfortunately their anonymous nature and lack of any real evidence means that more often than not, we are taking the word and advice of a complete stranger. However, if nobody tries to fight back against fake and illegitimate reviews, we would argue that the levels of trust would be worse. One of our goals in assisting in the removal of bogus reviews is to...

How do you know you’re not removing a genuine bad review?

This is an excellent (and common) question. The key thing to remember here is that it is the platforms themselves that make the determination on whether something is removed. The very purpose of those platforms is to provide real, informative reviews for others to read – so their preference is very biased towards keeping reviews up rather than taking them down. They therefore only remove a review for a violation of their policies – and even convincing them to do that is quite a lot of work.

The fear that a genuine bad review might be taken down is understandable, but people with this fear should also consider exactly what makes a review truly legitimate. The author might be real, and they may well have actually been a customer of the business; but their review still must follow the content policies of the platform. If it is abusive, harassing, lacks...

Who are you to decide what’s a “fair” review? How can anyone really decide?

Fair question! Obviously, “fair” can be a subjective term – what one person thinks is fair, another may think is totally unreasonable. Luckily we don’t need to try and figure out a common ground, because in this context, “fair” is actually determined by the platforms and more specifically by their content policies. In their view, if the review passes those policies then it is deemed “fair”. If it does not, it is deemed “unfair” and subject to removal. Everyone using the platforms has agreed to abide by the policies, so the idea of “fair” – in this context – is actually that simple.

Keep in mind that many business owners will still feel that this system is grossly unfair to them. In the majority of cases, reviews are allowed to be posted and inflict damage to a business, before they can be challenged and potentially removed. Serious accusations can be...

Can’t a business owner do this for themselves?

They can certainly try. Our success in this area comes from having submitted for the successful removal of thousands of reviews, so we know the platform policies inside out and (in our humble opinion) the best ways to approach things. Essentially we act as an advocate for the business, using our experience to assist them in an area that they most likely have very little experience or previous success themselves. Should they wish to go it alone, they absolutely can, but their success rate is simply unlikely to match our own. Some platforms also have a “one and done” policy, in that the first application is considered but future attempts are automatically rejected. Therefore, presenting a strong case the first time is highly recommended.

The main alternative option business owners had before Removify was to engage the services of a lawyer. However, unlike Removify, most lawyers will not operate on...

Can consumers tell the difference between real and fake reviews?

Some people believe that all reviews should stay up, so that consumers can decide which ones they want to believe.

There are a few issues with this line of thinking, not least of all that studies have found that people actually have trouble determining whether a review is real or fake (this study found it to be no better than 50%). So the idea that people can be relied on to tell the difference is fundamentally flawed – simply put, they can’t, and when they get it wrong a business will suffer unnecessarily.

However even if a negative review is “obviously fake”, the impact it has on the business’ overall rating remains intact. Even a small number of fake negative reviews can drag the out-of-five summary rating down to a level that some potential customers won’t even take the time to read the reviews. A 4.5-star...

What does it feel like to be a small business owner that receives a bogus negative review?

To be honest, hardly anyone asks this question – but in many cases, we wish that they did.

Small business owners are particularly hurt by reviews, because the damage isn’t just financial – it’s also emotional. Most work very hard in their business, it is a big part of their life, some might even describe it as a part of them. To be publicly attacked – especially unfairly, anonymously, for the world to see – is a bitter pill to swallow. What makes it worse is feeling powerless to do anything about it – they themselves will know that the review is fake, but not everyone else will. Some people will be scared off by it, thinking that “where there’s smoke there’s fire”.

So how does it feel? Unjust. Frustrating. Anger-inducing. Wild thoughts of revenge. Then later… deflating. It is hard not to take it personally, especially if happy customers...

Are you permanently removing the content, or just hiding it?
We completely and permanently remove your unwanted content from the site that it is on. In some cases, this is not possible due to the nature of the content or the publisher - for example, major news publications are notoriously resistant to taking a journalist’s work taken down. If we are unable to physically remove the offending content, you will not be charged a removal fee, but will have the option of instead allowing us to implement other reputation management strategies to hide, smother, or mitigate the offending content in other ways. Our first priority is always to physically remove the content.
What content can you remove?
Anything that can be put onto the internet, can theoretically be removed from the internet - so it is always best to at least let us take a look, since it costs nothing and comes at no risk to you. Most of our removals relate to user-generated content such as reviews, blog or forum postings, and malicious or unwanted images or videos. Click here to see a list of sites that we have successfully removed from in the past.
What content can’t you remove?
Some content is extremely difficult to remove due to the organisations controlling the site that the content is published on. For example, news publications that believe their article to be accurate will fight tooth and nail to keep it up, under the argument of “freedom of speech”. Government sites and other official organisations are of course also unlikely to remove something unless it is clearly factually inaccurate and/or blatantly illegal. In general, if the content itself is completely fair and/or factually accurate, provided honestly by a real human, and without infringing any locally applicable laws (such as privacy, copyright, etc) then removal is always more difficult (but not impossible). Our particular focus is on removing content that is unfair or unwarranted, inaccurate or dishonest, fake, illegal, or targets your business or staff in a personal, harassing or bullying manner.  
How do you remove content? Are you hacking into anything?
All removals are done in a completely legitimate manner, with the content being removed willingly by the publishing website or the host of the content. The full process depends on the nature of the content itself, and where it is posted. There is no “hacking” or other subterfuge involved. We do not “bribe” or offer incentives for the content to be removed. Most cases will involve us creating, submitting and managing a detailed application for the removal of the offending content by the publishing website. We liaise with most of these sites on a daily basis, and it is our experience from analyzing thousands of these applications that we have determined which process is likely to be successful for each type of content. Most removals require multiple submissions and ongoing correspondence with the website publisher.
Will you contact the person who left the review that I’m trying to have removed?
No, this is not part of our standard process and is typically unnecessary. If we do believe it will be necessary or helpful, we will always discuss this with you first and only move forward with your approval.
How much does it cost to remove negative content?
Pricing depends on what website the content is on, and in some cases the nature of the content itself. In all cases, you will only pay if we successfully remove the content. There is no cost, no risk and no commitment required to have us take a look at the content and give you a quote. Simply reach out and show us the content. We can typically provide a quote on the same day that you ask. We do offer discounts for removing multiple pieces of content.
How long does the content removal process take?
This varies depending on the publishing website and the nature of the content involved. In some cases, content removal can be as fast as 24-48 hours, but in more difficult cases it can take up to 60 days. The average removal time is 2-3 weeks and if we have not removed the content within 60 days, we will issue you a full refund. We’ll also keep you up-to-date on the progress of your content removal.

In some cases we are also able to offer an Urgent Processing option for removals that must happen within 30 days.
Does it matter if I’ve already tried removing the content myself and been unsuccessful?
In some cases this will make our job more difficult, as some website publishers will ignore all future correspondence if the first attempt at removal was not successful. However, in most cases we can still have content removed even if you were previously unsuccessful. Since we do not charge for unsuccessful removals, there is no risk in letting us take a shot at it even if you don’t think it is possible.
What if I’ve responded publicly to a review that I now want to have removed?
We often find that your response is treated as making the review appear either more legitimate, or already mitigated, thereby making the removal process more difficult. We may ask you to remove your response while the removal process is underway; you can save it somewhere and if for any reason the removal is unsuccessful, you can always add it back in again later.
What happens after the content is removed? Can it come back?
We continually monitor the status of the content, and inform you of the good news as soon as it is removed. Removal is permanent, and it is extremely rare for it to re-appear; if for any reason it does come back, the original agreement still applies and we will work to remove it again.   Please note that some websites will temporarily remove the content while they evaluate whether to permanently remove it. This does not count as a “successful removal”, and we will inform you of these situations when they occur.  
What happens if you haven’t removed the content within 60 days?
Throughout the removal process, we will keep you updated on the progress and our confidence level in having it be successful. If we have not removed the content within 60 days, we will offer you up to 3 options:
  1. If we believe that there is still a chance of success, we will inform you of the status and our intended strategy for continued attempts. You will then have the option of extending the time window to give us more time to implement that strategy.
  2. If we do not believe that outright removal is likely to succeed and our options to do so are exhausted, we may offer alternative options that help to mitigate the damage. In some cases these options are equally effective to complete removal, however in all cases these alternative strategies will be completely optional and...