Can You Delete Something From The Internet? [VIDEO]

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Can You Remove Something From The Internet? [VIDEO TRANSCRIPT]

Hi, this is David Erickson with the e-Strategy blog at and for today’s webcast I want to address a question that I get asked a lot. And that question is can I delete something from the Internet?

The short answer is no. The long answer, the explanation, the reason, is that, well, think about the different scenarios where somebody who is asking this question may have posted something on their Facebook page, or Twitter account, or Instagram and then thought better of it and want to delete that.

And certainly through those tools they can go back and go to that post and delete it from their Facebook account, they can delete it from their Twitter account, they can delete the photo on Instagram.

But due to the nature of how those tools work, that doesn’t eliminate the chance that somebody may have already seen that because of the instant notification systems that are built into those social networks.

The same is true of blogs. So, if you publish a blog post on your blog and you think better of it and you go back and delete it later, the people who have subscribed to your blog through a service called, or technology called RSS, will have been notified immediately and may have at least seen the headline is not read entire article before you deleted it from your blog post.

And then think about the way the search engines work. So, Google goes out and crawls the web and looks for new content and it’s gotten pretty good at recognizing when new content is published online. And it goes out and it sucks all that content into its database and indexes that content so even if you’ve published it, and you go back and delete it from your blog, it may still exist in Google in a feature that they have called the cache.

So, the link may still exist when people search for that content and if they click on it they may get an error message going to your website, but if they’re smart enough to know about the cache, they can click on the cache link associated in those search results with your website and see the actual article that Google has stored on its servers.

That content still exists.

And then, there is a website called the Wayback Machine. And what the Wayback Machine is, is it crawls the web and it indexes and saves the web, so you can go “way back” and look at what the web looked like back in the day.

That’s at You can look and see at what different websites looked like back, years ago.

So, there are tools out there that are saving all the content online even if you’ve deleted the content that you control. And that’s the content that you control; think about the content that you don’t control.

The other thing is how browsers work.

So your browser, when you use your browser to go to read a blog or go to a news website or whatever, the way that it is working is it visits that website and it grabs those pages, those individual web pages on the website and downloads them to your computer. So there’s a copy of those pages on your computer. If a bunch of people are visiting a blog posts that you’ve later deleted, they may have copies of that blog post on their own computers. So there conceivably could be thousands of pages that exist in the world even after you’ve deleted your own blog post. But again, as I said, that’s content that you control.

Often, when people asked me this question it is because of content that they don’t control.

It is either a poor review of a business on Yelp or on a review site that was unfair and they’re concerned about that; they can’t address it, they’ve got a customer that’s disgruntled and won’t be satisfied and that keeps showing up in search, that’s often the reason why people ask me that question. They may have gotten into legal trouble and there are court documents, so there’s a bunch of different scenarios where people ask this question.

And you really can’t, you can ask a blogger to delete a blog post but there’s not a lot of luck in doing that.

So, there different tactics that you can use to address the situation.

Everybody…Nobody should have a mistake they’ve made or a problem that they’ve encountered have to, the punished by that throughout their whole life.

And so there things that you can do to combat those issues, those reputation management issues. And those are things that I deal with, with individuals and brands and I worked on those scenarios a lot. So, you can fight content with content and that’s typically what I do in building a strategy for how to address that issue.

But the short answer to the question is: Ultimately, not really. You cannot delete something from the Internet. If it’s out there, it’s out there and you need to address the fact that it’s out there and come up with a strategy for dealing with that.

This has been a webcast of the e-Strategy Internet Marketing Blog at My name is David Erickson and you can reach me at that blog or on Twitter @derickson and more contact information below. Love to hear your thoughts on that; leave them in the comments below. And if you like this video, be sure to share it, Like it, share it with your social networks. Thanks for watching.

Thanks for watching. I’m David Erickson, host of the e-Strategy webcasts. I’d love to know what you think so please leave your thoughts in the comments below and if you like this video, be sure to press the thumbs-up button and share the video with your social networks, and, of course, subscribe to the e-Strategy YouTube channel.

You will get my weekly Beyond Social Media podcast, you’ll get marketing, advertising, public relations, online case studies, you’ll get trend analysis, interviews, demonstrations of Super Cool Tools, so be sure to subscribe to the e-Strategy YouTube channel. Thanks a lot.

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