If I post an image or html page with content I regret (say to blogger, jaiku, twitter, wordpress.org), I know I can take down the page and then I may need ask archive.org to remove the page.

Are there other steps I should take to finish scrubbing the internet of accidental postings?

Are there any steps I should take when publishing my content to make it easier to retract?

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    Is this appropriate for Web Applications? Maybe it should be on the Pro Webmasters? I suppose if you were looking for a web app to do the removal it would be valid, but I didn't get that from your question. – drye Jul 12 '10 at 13:35
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    I can publish regrettable content via blogger, twitter, facebook, etc, etc. It isn't necessarily selfhosted. – MatthewMartin Jul 12 '10 at 16:08
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    Call the Internet help desk? =) – JohnFx Jul 13 '10 at 22:36

You'll never be able to ensure that it's not archived/captured somewhere.

Depending on how quickly your content gets crawled by the search engines you probably need to ask them to remove it. (How to get content removed from Google) Even if you do this with the big three search engines there are countless other bots crawling the web that may have captured the content and, even if you could find out what they are, there's no guarantee you'll be able to get them to remove the data.

As for how to prevent such accidental leaks in the future: Utilize whatever tools you have to publish in the future. Even setting to publish 15 minutes into the future still keeps the general immediacy but allows you a few minutes to change your mind.


Depending on how serious the "regrettable content" is, trying to remove it may backfire if you get noticed. In other words, watch out for the Barbara Streisand Effect.

Follow the suggestions made by other answers, but don't assume you can remove it from everywhere. Be aware that legal challenges and loud requests to remove content from sites you don't own can draw unwanted attention.

  • Interesting point. Good thing I'm not famous. – MatthewMartin Jul 13 '10 at 3:37
  • @MatthewMartin - not yet, right? – Damovisa Jul 13 '10 at 15:04

There's not a lot you can do with regard to Google (and other search engine) caches. You can request page removal, but it's not going to be automatic.

If you were quick with the removal then the page might not have been indexed so you might not have the problem.

If the page has been indexed then you can request that Google re-index your site. You need to have your site registered with Google's Webmaster tools

  • The part about google not cooperating with individuals doesn't seem accurate. The link that @al everett provided seems to imply that they will remove content on request. – MatthewMartin Jul 12 '10 at 12:30
  • On request with conditions. For instance, the URL needs to return a 404 or 410 to show that it's gone. Google won't remove real content. – ale Jul 12 '10 at 12:39
  • @Matthew - I think I phrased that badly, I'll remove it until I can think of a better way of phrasing it. – ChrisF Jul 12 '10 at 12:44
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    @Al Everett: If you change your robots.txt to deny googlebot access to the page in question, it doesn't need to return a 404 for a removal request to be accepted. – nhinkle Jul 12 '10 at 17:23
  • @nhinkle: good point – ale Jul 12 '10 at 19:10

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