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A new form of negative SEO is on the rise, as imposters are using fake DMCA takedown requests to manipulate Google search results.
TorrentFreak reports that scammers are posing as legitimate copyright owners and have succeeded at getting hundreds of thousands of links taken down using Google’s DMCA takedown tools.
There is also an on-going discussion about this issue on the Russian Google webmaster forum.
Among those being impersonated are anti-piracy companies MUSO and Blue Efficience, who confirm they are not behind all takedown requests being made in their name.
The sole purpose of these fake takedown requests is to downrank competitors, TorrentFreak says.
Imposters have been getting away with it by using variations of names that appear legitimate, such as “Walt Disney LTD.”
Google is aware of this problem and is flagging some notices as fake, but some are still getting through.
“This means that potentially millions of URLs are removed by scammers who don’t own any of the copyrighted content but are just looking to downrank sites of competitors.”
A site owner started a thread about this problem on Google’s Webmaster Central help forums, saying it has been going on since February.
The top reply in the thread advises people who are being targeted by fake takedown requests to file a counter-notice.
While many of the sites being targeted are pirate sites, there is evidence of a small business website being targeted with fake takedown requests by one of its competitors. As a result, several of its URLs have been taken down.
Google has yet to issue a statement regarding this problem.