Google Says No To MugShots Web Sites With New Algorithm

Oct 16, 2013 • 8:55 am | comments (32) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Google MugShotOn October 3rd, Google launched another algorithm change, one I didn't cover here but wrote about at Search Engine Land named the Google Mugshot Algorithm.

In short, Google has downgraded the rankings of mugshot web sites, such as Mugshots, BustedMugshots and JustMugshots. These sites ranked incredibly well for names of individuals who have been arrested. The people didn't have to be convicted and they could have been completely innocent, but their mugshot was ranking at the top of the search results, with the arrest details, for all to see.

Family, friends, companies, interviewers, and so on. They search your name, your arrest would rank first. Well, not anymore. Not for the last week or so with Google's new MugShot Algorithm in place.

I should note that responded basically telling Google to reconsider because but not having these arrests rank well in Google, it puts Americans at risk.

Keep in mind, all of these sites do charge removal fees.

What do you think about this algorithm? Are Americans at risk or are we better off since Google downgraded the rankings?

Forum discussion at Google+.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for colorful mugshots

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10/16/2013 01:03 pm

here we go again - Google playing "moral police" of the Internet...Kings of double standards!


10/16/2013 01:12 pm

They are not playing "Moral Police," they are covering their own butts. Google has tons of legal fights all over the world from this kind of content. Some countries say once you've done your time, there should be no mention of your crime on the internet at all. I think they are trying to minimize the impact of these kinds of sites to ultimately protect themselves from being forced into doing something about it later.


10/16/2013 01:20 pm

FYI, did some testing of this: Previously a person I knew had mugshots of themselves appearing in Google Image searches. Now or + "mugshot" doesn't get the person's infamous pic (but lots of other mugshots what that word is added to the query). Also tested + "Busted" and one of their mugshots was the first image. Tried + "DUI" and didn't find the person's mugshot pics there either (again, lots of other mugshots, though).


10/16/2013 01:39 pm

I don't think anyone could ever win a case against search engine finding a mugshot website. What about porn, gambling, private videos of celebrities? Did anyone sue Google or any other search engine? Sorry, no ground for anything like that. I doubt they are affraid of lawsuits, especially in cases like this.


10/16/2013 03:52 pm,2817,2411760,00.asp Just because they are stupid doesn't mean they can't happen


10/16/2013 04:26 pm

Good! The fact that these sites are set up for the sole purpose of pulling money out of people makes this a good move on Google's part, in my opinion. These sites being around for 'public safety' is crap, they wouldn't offer to remove photos for a fee if safety was their concern. These sites are designed and operated as fronts for extortion.

Chris Tam

10/16/2013 04:33 pm

Good riddance


10/16/2013 07:32 pm

Good riddance indeed!

James R. Halloran

10/16/2013 07:52 pm

I applaud Google's efforts to curtail these kinds of sites. If you're extorting people for profit, you're not really looking out for the public at all. Thankfully companies like can help those affected by such an attack on an individual's reputation. Here's how:

Ashley Stanf

10/16/2013 09:03 pm

How about they stop with BS updates and come up with YELP, YELLOWPAGES, AMAZON, EBAY etc. update. Berry, can you write something about it? Just look at local results:

Dave Z

10/17/2013 03:22 am

That's one way to look at it. Although Google's power and reach into the Internet is undeniable, they're essentially a "private" company (that's publicly trading) that can decide what the public can and can't do with the stuff offered to them. Thus, Google can - for the most part - decide what "moral" stuff is allowed on their search engine or their servers. However, they can't impose their "morals" on people who - say - use Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc. A funny thing? We all have that ability to decide what others can and can't do with our stuff that we offer them.


10/17/2013 05:13 am

It can happen of course, anyone can sue anyone these days. But only one case here (without court decision) is somewhat similar to Mugshots case. It' Paul Hynard case where he wants his past deleted from search engine. All other cases have ground (mistaken identity or name connected to crime not commited).


10/17/2013 06:42 am



10/17/2013 11:49 am

I would love to see Barry write something about the poor state of local 2 look at this screen shot

Barry Schwartz

10/17/2013 12:08 pm

It is more wide spread than that. I covered this twice already. Know of discussion threads with these examples?


10/17/2013 02:28 pm

it's not only local. Google search is full of examples like this. Some people consider this a feature, not a bug...


10/17/2013 06:24 pm

Really James...extortion?...Thankfully can manipulate the search engines temporarily...your a self serving tool.


10/17/2013 06:27 pm

Really and what happens when your daughter is thinking of dating a convicted felon and you can't find the information on line, because it now doesn't rank...


10/17/2013 10:29 pm

how does offering a $399 extortion fee to remove an "arrest" mugshot, put Americans at risk? Perhaps those in a position to pay are really not guilty. I also like the fact have stepped up to pretend to be the re-judge and re-jury in setting the fees based on charge impact distress caused to the arrested. Epstien needs a real lawyer to have mugshots dot com exit gracefully. Throw Epstien in the pen to experience extortion from the behind.

Gracious Store

10/18/2013 04:38 am

If Mugshot records arrest without proper verification as to the innocence of the person, Google should not only down grade mugshots sites, Google should scrape it and shut it down completely because they give false report to the public. I wonder why someone have not sued them yet for tarnishing their reputation and public records.


10/18/2013 03:47 pm

Good job, only problem is that mugshot articles will still come up in local news, guilty or not. When it comes to news, crime sells.

Benjamin Melenyzer

10/18/2013 04:01 pm

I personally believe that the companies basing their hiring decisions on a mugshot photo are the ones who should in fact be prosecuted.

Benjamin Melenyzer

10/18/2013 04:10 pm

Yes, it seems to me that an image search for "first name" "last name" + "mugshot" should still show the requested image, but who am I to contest the mighty google.


10/18/2013 08:00 pm

The ease of which people can find information about one another, whether true or not, is very concerning. The USA founding-fathers chose to share arrest/imprisonment reports because it was meant to protect those arrested, since it was common to arrest without cause and nobody would know what happened to their loved ones. Now it is being abused. And not just arrest records, way too much information is available (for a price usually). People make bad choices and mistakes. They serve their time, be it in jail or community service. Now with the easy access of credit reports and background checks, people struggle to find a job, get a credit card, buy a house, rent an apartment, buy a car, attend certain schools, etc, etc.

Dave Z

10/21/2013 03:11 am

Simple: you go to an original and trusted (?) source like your local or state police. I may be wrong, but at least they can remove someone's mug shot (if not found guilty or anything) without charging fees. Yet, the mug shot may stay there if the person is found guilty since then.

Dave Z

10/21/2013 03:15 am

There are on-going lawsuits to address that issue. Just that they're not easy to handle.


10/31/2013 10:38 pm

The sanctimonious smear-merchants at these mugshot extortion sites don't give a damn about public safety! Their one goal is to publicly shame innocent people into paying them to salvage their reputation, which is impossible enough to rebuild after an arrest without this added nightmare. Anyone who wants to can find these records without their "help." And they are accurate, unlike an arrest/mugshot (what was the outcome?). The FBI should ban this practice, and punish any search engine company that acts as a co-conspirator! Google did the right thing. I only hope they don't reconsider ... many innocent lives will be ruined, and they will LITERALLY have blood on their hands!

osman musa

11/08/2013 10:05 am

Americans are not at risk just because American's can't see mugshot photos. What puts Americans at risk is mugshot photos appearing to employers. Anyone can Google a persons name and use a mugshot photo against them. Imaging a petty Misdemeanor mugshot photo over 7 years ago appearing to a potential employer. The law says 7 years is what an applicant must legally tell employers of any convictions, but these mugshot website photos go back even farther than that. Google did a very good job with this matter. It is embarassing to people who have had their records expunged but these mugshot websites still show their pics and info.


11/10/2013 10:43 pm

I appreciate what Google has done for the 3 mugshot sites mentioned, but how about the others that are ranking also has MANY other mugshot websites and so called sister removal companies working with them like They are still ranking in 1st and second page results with Google when persons name is searched as well as the mugshot on page one...for people who were not convicted, and cases that well over 11 years old????? . All mugshot companies should be penalized with the Algorithm, not just a few or a couple.


11/25/2013 07:41 pm

bravo google! bravo!


01/12/2014 01:13 am

Go google for at least taking an ethical position on it....But it's not working unfortunately, hire some creative coders in your search sector and maybe you will get it right. These domain holders are just republishing their websites, now highlighting those that have previously paid them to have their pics removed. DO NOT PAY THEM TO REMOVE YOUR PIC, your will be SCREWED! Also praise to the financial institutions for banning their use with these crooks, but again unfortunately bitcoin solved the problem for the extortionists! When is godaddy going to step up and stop making a profit off these companies too? I'm sick of this issue getting pushed to the back burner, it's ruining peoples lives, I've read reports that people have killed themselves or others because of the distress these photo'a cause. It's sad. The fact that a bill died I n the fl legislator to ban these sites also pathetic.


01/12/2014 01:20 am

Fuck and fuck you. You are just as guilty you faggot fuck

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