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Companies That Clean Up Bad Online Reputations 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-never-happened dept.
Radon360 writes "As the ever-increasing amount of information available online becomes indexed and searchable, more and more people find themselves potentially at risk of having unwanted personal information revealed or their names incorrectly associated with inflammatory topics. The are several firms that now sell their services of trying to remove or bury such information that their client deems offensive or troublesome. Companies, such as ReputationDefender and DefendMyName will, for a fee, do the legwork to find content that negatively impacts your reputation and have it removed or buried deeper in search rankings. However, some of these efforts can backfire, as the act to get it taken down can sometimes draw more attention than the offending content in the first place."
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Companies That Clean Up Bad Online Reputations

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  • Suspicion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FraterNLST (922749) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:05PM (#19500279) Homepage
    You would definately have to be careful with something like this. It's the same as the US Government's approach to cryptography, the idea that "if you're hiding, you've got something to hide.". A perfectly normal person with something slightly embarressing showing up online (and who hasn't done or said something that would be embarressing to have sprawled across the net?) is likely to draw far more attention if someone finds out they're paying to make that info disappear than if they just left it to get buried in the noise. And of course, you're trusting the companies that are offering the service. Can we say blackmail? Anonymous leak?
    • Re:Suspicion (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Esteanil (710082) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:43PM (#19500573) Homepage Journal
      Personally, I'm just glad I did most of my (major) online screwups back in '95, on MUDs.

      The sad thing about our lovely new commercialised net is that as long as it could be valuable to keep, it will be kept (drive space is cheap).
      Add to this the various governmental ideas that as long as it could potentially at some time be construed as possibly being scary or linked to terrorist activity, ISPs should be forced to keep it... Well. I had my reasons to screw up, I'm sure plenty of the current generation have got their good reasons to screw up, but they likely won't be getting away from it as easily as I did.
      • Re:Suspicion (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Darundal (891860) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @11:53PM (#19501007) Journal
        I just did a Google search on my name, and although I have never made any online screwups, my first name is listed as being associated with an Italian spammer. At one point, my name was randomly associated with a load of porn sites. No, I don't have a common name. The sad thing is not the longevity of your screwups on the net. It is the longevity of the screwups that you didn't make, but that are associated with your name, that is truly sad. Especially since many of those things screwups that you didn't make are very hard to disprove (say, a blog by someone that has your name, that doesn't list a location, that happens to speak a lot about going out, getting drunk, partying, and many other acts that a company might disapprove of, but could be hard for you to personally disprove because of vagueness in the original writing).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by G27 Radio (78394)
          It becomes especially hard to disprove when your potential employer doesn't even bring up the data they retrieved during your "background check." The HR department will decide they have better things to do than justify the background check that they did--they'll just tell you and the management that wanted to hire you that you're not qualified.
          • You know, I've been following your blog for some time now.
            I would tend to suggest that you simply point employers at it.
            If I was a hiring manager (I am not, and hope to never be one), I would likely offer you a job right now (after reading your resume), if you were willing to relocate. Your writing is quite good.
            -nB
            • by h2g2bob (948006) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @05:01AM (#19502535) Homepage
              Yeah, he offers you a job now, but wait until he googles your name...
            • by G27 Radio (78394)
              Thanks. I'm committed to the business I've started, at least for the next year, so I won't be looking a job before that. In fact I think that in a couple months it will be profitable enough to stay with long term or sell it--of course, I've said that before and the growth wasn't as fast as I'd expected. Still I think I've got a solid foundation now, so I'm not looking for new work at present.

              If I were to apply for a new job I'd definitely do everything in my power to make sure they knew I was not a crimi
        • My name seems to bring up several scholars and doctors. Heh, it's not such a horrible association.
        • by d3ac0n (715594)
          That's the one really nice thing about having a very common name. You always have plausible deniability.

          Potential Employer: We have found some troubling things on the Internet attribitued to you Mr./Ms. (insert very common name)

          You: Um, that's not me.

          Potential Empoyer: We would like to believe you, but your name is all over it.

          You: Do you have any idea how common my name is? Just Google it! You'll find people with the same name as me all over the internet!

          Potential Employer: Hmm.. Good point. Ok,
          • by mcmonkey (96054)

            The problem is the conversation you described is a very, very, very rare thing.

            A much more likely scenario is:

            Potential Employer: Thank you for meeting with us. We'll let you know.

            You: Thank you. I look forward to working together.

            Potential Employer: ...

            You: Hello? We met for an interview recently. Have you made a decision?

            Potential Employer: ...

            You: wtf?

            If the employer really wants you and has no other comparable candidates, it may come up just as a CYA so employer can say, "he said it wasn't

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Zenaku (821866)
          My name is not especially common, but there is another person with the same first and last name as me, who is also from the same hometown as I am, and is 8 or 9 years younger than me.

          I first became aware of him when I was in high-school -- his drawing of a ninja turtle was published in the children's section of the newspaper, with my name under it. I got teased. Then a short while later I endured some more razzing when he called the local radio station (and got on air) to request a song that I hated.

          I've
      • I said a lot of silly things back in the late 80's/early 90's in usenet (under another name), and it's still indexed in google.
      • as long as it could be valuable to keep, it will be kept

        Tell me about it. When I was in high school, I made a web page on tripod that has horrible loud backgrounds and graphics and talks for far too long about my then-boyfriend. All around, very embarrassing. I haven't touched it in nine years, since my freshman year of college, and it's STILL THERE! I've long since forgotten the password, the email account it's linked to is long gone, and per my email exchanges with tripod tech support I seem to have reg

    • Re:Suspicion (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IvyKing (732111) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @12:28AM (#19501189)

      A perfectly normal person with something slightly embarressing showing up online (and who hasn't done or said something that would be embarressing to have sprawled across the net?) is likely to draw far more attention if someone finds out they're paying to make that info disappear than if they just left it to get buried in the noise.


      That's pretty much what tipped Stalin off to the US work on the A-bomb - seeing a sudden cessation of publishing of nuclear research. Similarly, Stalin's crew picked up on the problem of xenon poisoning in power reactors when mention of it was deleted from the Smythe Report.


      Then there's the recent uproar about a certain number being deleted from Digg...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by FraterNLST (922749)
        Exactly, it's the entire reason behind huge areas of research, particularly in data mining and analysis. What's not being said is generally even more important than what is - the first rule of diplomacy. It's Racists and Sexists that fear frank discussion on race and sex (which should make you look closely at who's driving the political correctness machine in various countries), and it is the same with every other issue. If you want to know who holds those beliefs strongly, look to who is repressing speec
  • Disturbing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by royrules22 (1115273) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:05PM (#19500281)
    This is a disturbing trend. We could find to-be politicians removing everything bad about themseleves and painting a good picture just so people vote for them. Not good.
    • Re:Disturbing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FraterNLST (922749) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:09PM (#19500315) Homepage
      Because government officials have never tried to cover up after themselves before? And they havn't got the resources to do it by themselves? Actually, if anyone is unlikely to use these services, it's probably politicians. They're far better off trusting their close allies to help them cover up then to risk letting an outside company, who may or may not share their political leanings, know that they want information disappeared.
      • Because government officials have never tried to cover up after themselves before? And they havn't got the resources to do it by themselves? Actually, if anyone is unlikely to use these services, it's probably politicians. They're far better off trusting their close allies to help them cover up then to risk letting an outside company, who may or may not share their political leanings, know that they want information disappeared. While that is true, this makes it easy for any no-good person to do. While pri
      • They're far better off trusting their close allies to help them cover up then to risk letting an outside company, who may or may not share their political leanings, know that they want information disappeared.

        Mod parent up.

        Indeed, it's unlikely that they (a politician) would give a third party the trust necessary to cover up something that would be important enough to have them contact the cover-up company in the first place.

      • Usenet (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ukemike (956477)
        Back when google was relatively new, and the internet was relatively small still, (we're talking late 90s) it occurred to be to search on my name. I was very surprised to find archived USENET posts from the late 80s and early 90s! Knowing that, I refined my searches and was shocked at the reckless things I had posted. It had not occurred to me that all of that was being archived.

        Even then it was only possible because I have an unusual name, and I had an unusually early presence on the internet.

        N
    • by Joebert (946227)
      I agree.
      The first Politician to run a campaign that shows me everything they've ever done, including fucking that retarded girl in the butt after getting her to pretend she's a pony, will be the first Politician to get my vote.
    • The problem actually runs much deeper than that. Those of us who know how the net works and have seen the fossilised remains of our online actions during the latter part of the previous century wash up on more recent shores know only too well that we've likely already participated in enough silliness to effectively prevent us from seeking political office, lest we have past indiscretions show up in our faces at the worst possible time - which is of course when they always turn up.

      Clinton, Bush, and Obama h
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        Unless the trend is reversed, our children will be forced to choose from candidates with completely sterilised white-bread virgin-till-marriage always-feed-the-meter coke-is-a-beverage pasts.

        Or we could just become a bit more tolerant instead.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by neonmonk (467567)
          What a fabulous idea!

          *holds breath*
          • >*holds breath*
            Dude, you're turning a sort of blue colour... Dude?
            What would help a lot is if people got a little less (well, a lot less) litigious over every teeny tiny thing that happens and stop being such a bunch of victime. Sometimes stuff happens or people say stuff. Just roll with it.
    • You do recall the articles about politicians editing their Wikipedia entries [arstechnica.com] to remove negative information, or in some cases to alter the reports on their voting records, right?
  • it's true (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:06PM (#19500285)
    Consider the time roblimo took a picture of his stretched out asshole. Then posted it on the alt.binaries.pictures.homosexual. If he had left it at that, people would have been disgusted, but nobody would know it was him. Instead, he files DMCA takedown lawsuits to have it removed from hick.org. Now everybody knows that roblimo is the goatse man.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:08PM (#19500311)
    And they kill babies and rape puppies! Or maybe it's the other way around!?

    (Let's see them defend themselves against THAT!)
  • by mauddib~ (126018) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:14PM (#19500351) Homepage
    So, it appears we go back to a masked society. Now, we learn from history and see that the fact that masking happens is an indicator that we feel that there is an unfair judging taking place and we want a level playfield. In the end, we can all take off our masks, because it is who we are, not who we were, that ultimately defines us.

    Now, we're so lucky that we have intelligent and abstract thinking personnel managers (newspeak: Human Resource Managers) who will be able to look over such inconveniences as the tracks we leave behind and focus on personality and ability, mixed with some cultural heritage, ignoring the ambiguity of the net altogether. Or, maybe this takes another 50 years to sink in for the working area you might work in (given a lack of such 'Human Resource Managers' at a place near you).
    • As long as "what people think about what you said" is more important than "how accurate was what you said," smart people everywhere will hide what they think to the detriment of all. It's a habit of most dying things to first go into denial (except BSD, which is not dying).
  • In my case, the first thing they'd have to do is take down Slashdot. Yeah, like that'd work. :)
  • .. but can be used to bury information, bring forward disinformation, etc...

    Information is information, and it don't care what sequence of symbols are attached... seek, find and bury or bring forward.

  • wayback machine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by narced (1078877) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:18PM (#19500373) Journal
    Having dug up some dirty old web sites on friends, I'm sure we all know about the wayback machine at http://www.archive.org/web/web.php [archive.org].

    I wonder if these goons also create a robots.txt file on the server that they are trying to clean up? It would be hard to remove content from the wayback machine that you do not own.
    • Re:wayback machine (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @11:15PM (#19500797) Homepage
      Oh it's not hard to remove stuff from wayback. It's virtually impossible. Read the conditions under which Brewster et al will take stuff down. There are very very few cases where they'll actually do this.

      • by neolith (110650)
        I just went to the site, and it doesn't seem to say that. If you own the site, setup a robots.txt file and they will stop crawling your site in the future, AND remove the archived pages. Also, if you follow the link to the academic archiving standards they follow, they seem to be open to removing archived stuff not under your direct control, on a case by case basis.
  • Employees/Employers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bh_doc (930270) <blhiggins.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:19PM (#19500381) Homepage
    I've heard stories (on ./ mind you) about companies doing google searches and the like on potential employees, and I can see how an applicant would consider the use of these services, perhaps for some specific reason, or just to clean their google-reputation generally, to get an edge over their competition. What worries me, though, is that employers actually take such searches seriously. The phrase "The internet is serious business" is meant to be a joke, but it seems to go over some people's heads.

    I wonder if in the future we'll ever see legislation against discrimination by internet search? Not for a while at least, I posit --- there are probably more deserving unlegislated discriminations to target first.
    • I've heard stories about employers using Facebook searches. They would get summer associates/recent grads to look up applicants. These stories are anecdotal, but only one degree of seperation, so I believe them (although two for you, so...)

      And on /. I heard about a teacher who lost their job because of their MySpace page. Granted, it was a little more detailed than that, as apparently she was directing students to her page, and it had drinking. But in those cases it is idiots posting pictures of themse

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)
        she was directing students to her page, and it had drinking

        Because heaven forfend that school pupils find out their teacher *drinks*! Won't someone think of the children?!!

        In any case, in the photo in question there was no indication of any kind as to what the teacher was drinking. How on earth this could result in her losing her job I don't know. I suppose it's the sort of thing that can only happen in ultra-conservative fundamentalist theocracies where people are denied basic civil liberties.
        • My point was it was only that she inadvertantly did it to herself. If its that easy to get an overreaction, justified or not, by mistake, imagine how much easier it would have been for someone with malice to do it to you.

    • by Wansu (846)

        "... I can see how an applicant would consider the use of these services, perhaps for some specific reason, or just to clean their google-reputation generally ..."

      Yeah, a sort of reputation laundering ...

  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:21PM (#19500393)
    I think I'll hire these guys after I leave my current job in 2009. It may take a few bucks to get it done, though.

                                        -- George W. Bush
  • I was wondering why the web searches for drag photos of Giuliani are coming up bust.
  • been there done that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by um... Lucas (13147) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:27PM (#19500445) Homepage Journal
    An acquaintance was arrested and served time in jail. Upon getting out, he googled himself and the top 5 links in google, along with several others, were all news articles pertaining to his arrest. So he asked me if we could bump those down in the rankings... Sure enough we did, by combination of both good press and posting a lot of cross-referenced fluff, the "tainted" material now has been pushed back to page 3 of googles results.

    That said, it's not hidden, and if someone came upon it, it would be useless to deny, but he thought it valuable to at least not haev it come up first in the rankings
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Instead, you first get 3 pages of "good press," like "Joe Brown is not serving time for beating his wife any more!"
  • The Streisand Effect (Score:5, Informative)

    by spellraiser (764337) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:27PM (#19500447) Journal

    However, some of these efforts can backfire, as the act to get it taken down can sometimes draw more attention than the offending content in the first place.

    This is known as the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org], the scourge of all Internet censors.

    Interestingly, I note that this Wikipedia article is now being considered for deletion. Wouldn't it be ironic if it got deleted and then popped up somewhere else?

    • "This is known as the Streisand Effect, the scourge of all Internet censors.

      Interestingly, I note that this Wikipedia article is now being considered for deletion."


      Why?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)
        Wikipedia admins AStarIsBorn, Yentl and FunnyGirl keep saying it's Non Notable. And that Adelman promised her that he would crop the damn picture before releasing it.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:33PM (#19500499)
    this seems like a huge waste of money, google and archive.org cache huge parts of the internet for anyone who wants to look. bottom line is, never use your real name and never identify yourself. also beware of mailing lists
    • by wikinerd (809585)
      I think it's too paranoid to never use your real name and being beware of mailing lists. Not having an online presence, preferably under your real name, can be a disadvantage in job applications or subcontracting, not to say even in simple social interaction. Those who are accustomed on the Internet ***expect*** to find something about you online, and if they don't many times they may be suspicious.
  • ReputationDefender - "Nothing to see here, please move along."

    and

    DefendMyName - "We created the idea for Rockstar's Bully"
  • Interesting ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kbahey (102895) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @11:30PM (#19500873) Homepage
    Interesting ...

    Just today, I was reading an article in ComputerWorld (Canadian edition) about companies that mine the internet for a brand or company, and report flagged items to that company.

    Several companies are selling this as a service or as software.

    One company is Milton based RepuTrace, another is in Seattle.

    They cite a case where workers said they were drunk or high when working, another case of threats against the company, ...etc.

    Here is the full article [itworldcanada.com].
    • by illumin8 (148082)

      Several companies are selling this as a service or as software.

      One company is Milton based RepuTrace, another is in Seattle.

      What boggles my mind the most after reading the article is that they seem to be selling a service that Google offers for free. You can go to Google News [google.com] and setup custom alerts that email you whenever your company's name appears in a news or blog article anywhere on the interweb... Sounds like the exact same service this company is selling, although they offer you either email alerts

  • by ZPWeeks (990417) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @11:30PM (#19500883)
    If I had something to hide, and hired an SEO company to bury my dirt, I wouldn't let the Wall Street Journal write an article about it, containing said dirt and my real name.... and I wouldn't let it get Slashdotted!
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=christina+par ascandola&btnG=Google+Search [google.com]
    Looks like it sure worked!
    • by plierhead (570797)

      If I had something to hide, and hired an SEO company to bury my dirt, I wouldn't let the Wall Street Journal write an article about it, containing said dirt and my real name

      You have missed the point - she complained about noise from bars, and got unfairly slurred as anti-gay - so its a great outcome for her that her story gets elevated to the top.

  • Nice Try (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brocktune (512373) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @11:31PM (#19500887) Homepage
    My true name is, honestly... Dave Chappelle. I'm not the famous holder of the name, but I was born first and I stake my claim. I always see it coming. The waiter spend a second too long looking at my credit card, and I know I'm about to be hit with a lame Rick James joke that he thinks is hilarious.

    Let's just see them wipe the internets of Dave Chappelle...
    • That's rather funny.

      Google-wise, I have a similar situation. There are two other people in this field with my name - one is a former VP at Sun and the other is another software developer.

      Since I come first in Google, I get mail for them on occasion (I'm sure the fact that I have jameshollingshead.com doesn't help). The last time I got mail for the former Sun VP James, I gave the lady the right contact information and asked her to say hello for me (again).

      I would imagine it has to be fun for the HR people
    • by JoeD (12073)
      I can sympathize. My real name is Joe DiMaggio. My situation is a little different - he had the name first, so I've always had people comment on it, even when I was a kid.

      But it does have a couple of advantages. People remember my name. And I get lost in the Google chaff.

      True: I used to live on Marilyn Drive, which could be fun when ordering pizza.
    • by mcmonkey (96054) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:42AM (#19505317) Homepage

      My true name is, honestly... Dave Chappelle.

      Could be worse. Your name could be Michael Bolton.

    • I know exactly how you feel.
  • My buddy runs a similar service, it's so secretive that not even you know it's happening, which gives you plausable deniability.

    He's also the pastor at your local church part time, don't be shy when that collection plate comes around...
  • I don't think this service is really meant for individuals (even politicians). It's more for companies. If you company gets a bad reputation for damaging the environment, monopolistic practices, or bad products, then you call in these guys.

    Companies already do stuff like this. When they get a bad reputation, instead of getting at the root of the problem that got them in trouble, they call in the lawyers and the marketing people, or hire a new PR firm. Well, these guys sell a specialty service within tha
    • by Fnkmaster (89084)
      Actually, ReputationDefender is very much oriented towards individuals. Some clients may be small business owners and the like, but its definitely not targeted at large corporate clients who already have access to arrays of lawyers, PR firms, etc.

      There are probably other companies out there offering similar services for corporate clients, but ReputationDefender has always been about helping regular people monitor what's being said about them online, tracking down personal information about private citizens
  • Google Approved? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by weinrich (414267) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @12:03AM (#19501065)

    Adding positive content to combat negative mentions isn't against Google Inc.'s rules [...] as long as the content is original and the companies don't use manipulative techniques to push pages higher in search results.

    Since when do Internet websites have to obey rules from anyone, especially a search engine?

    If I ran a web-reputation repair company, I would do everything I could to determine what was "against" the rules in Google's mind and do it on every website where one or more of my clients had trouble. Consequently, those sites would be flagged "rule breakers" and immediately drop very low in Google's search ratings.

    My job here is done!

  • How about the opposite? A company which specializes in spamming shit about someone you hate? Ruin their reputation for whatever your reasons.

    They could call it FuckEmInTheAss, DestroyTheOpp or getthefacts.com
  • From TFA, ReputationDefender works like this:

    1. Send a polite letter to a site you're looking to expunge info from, telling them who the company is and what they do, and what their specific requests is.

    2. Get less polite, including "contacting a site's Internet service provider to complain about the site".

    3. When there is no response, ReputationDefender will "sometimes suggests that clients hire a lawyer. Emphasis mine to ensure I'm conveying the sheer drama of such a bold move.

    4. No ??? - go direct

    • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @03:01AM (#19502019)
      Well, that's a dismissive analysis, and that is only a portion of the business.

      First of all, there is a technical problem of person-oriented search. This is a large part of finding content, both undesirable and otherwise, that refers to a particular person, and it is a rather complicated technical problem. It involves grouping together search engine results, and resolving a general co-reference problem across disparate types of content - how do you know that "John Smith" in one web page refers to "John Smith" in another web page? A combination of automation and human input is currently required, but this is an active area that ReputationDefender is involved in R&D for. This is more than just "Googling for your own name", as some have suggested in the past.

      If you want to Google for your own name, by all means, go ahead, it's free, though often a good starting point. But that's different from the MyReputation service, which involves aggregating from a large number of sources (meta-search), prioritizing, clustering, annotating, and pushing intermittent updates on search results to clients. This may not be useful to everyone, but it is definitely quite useful to some people. We've heard many people say "Oh wow, I didn't know that was out there".

      Secondly, removal efforts, which you describe, are one service that ReputationDefender offers. Even that service is substantially more nuanced than you make it sound - there is a database of techniques and practices that the services group has developed, and clients often do find this service to be valuable to them. Just because something isn't rocket science doesn't mean it's not useful to many people. Additionally, the fees for content removal efforts are by no means exorbitant.

      There are other services offered by ReputationDefender as well, including higher priced offerings, that work quite differently and rely on making content less easily discoverable using SEO-related techniques, rather than actually seeking its removal. Again, those might not pique your interest, but there are quite a few satisfied customers who do think they are rather valuable.

      As for the involvement of lawyers, it has only occurred in a very few cases. In cases with a strong legal mandate, ReputationDefender has in some cases been able to get law firms interested in representing clients who otherwise might not have been able to afford legal representation, and certainly not of the caliber than has become involved. Clients have been happy when they previously felt powerless about awful things being said about them, and suddenly found that their case was interesting enough to a group of high powered lawyers to take it on.

      None of these things might seem valuable to you if you haven't been in a situation to need them before, or if you are so technically savvy as to need no help in any of these areas, but there are quite a few people who do find them useful.

      By way of disclaimer, I am a consultant to ReputationDefender and a shareholder in the company, so I am surely biased on these matters, but I am open minded to legitimate critiques. But your description of what the company does is radically oversimplified.
      • by teslar (706653)

        As for the involvement of lawyers, it has only occurred in a very few cases. In cases with a strong legal mandate, ReputationDefender has in some cases been able to get law firms interested in representing clients who otherwise might not have been able to afford legal representation, and certainly not of the caliber than has become involved.

        Translation:

        Even when we had strong cases, which does not happen often, we have failed to get law firms interested except in a select few cases but I am not going to te

        • by Fnkmaster (89084)
          No, you apparently mistook (or intentionally distorted) my vagueness as an attempt to conceal some underlying failure. In fact, that vagueness only means that I can't discuss any specifics nor do I really know enough to do so (I'm not involved in that side of the business).

          The definition of "won" for clients is that they got rid of unwanted, misleading, unfair content out there about them, and we have many clients for whom we have successfully removed or neutralized content. We see it as a substantial pos
      • Well, fair comment. I find your post much more informative than TFA. I suppose I knew there was more to it even as I read the article, but the article really did undersell the process, and as such I couldn't help but make a smartass comment. I think it was the presentation of the 'sometimes suggesting the hiring of a lawyer' - it just seem glib.

        Your point is fair and understood.

  • AutoAdmit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheoMurpse (729043) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:46AM (#19501601) Homepage
    AutoAdmit bills itself as "the most prestigious college admissions discussion board in the world." The law school section is just one big circle jerk of Harvard, Yale, and Stanford pricks who spend their time gossipping like old grandmas about how certain girls in their law schools are major sluts. They allegedly found out one girl at one of the schools was daughter of an international felon or something like that. An even bigger clusterfuck ensued.

    The girl hired Reputation Defender, and it became an even larger clusterfuck; might I call it a mung universe?

    Basically, I don't have anything meaningful to say other than Reputation Defender has the ability to turn a huge clusterfuck of pricks into an even bigger universe full of mung [urbandictionary.com]. Warning: the definitions are nastier than you could possibly imagine!
    • by MLease (652529)
      Re: mung....

      There are times I wish I weren't so damned curious. This is one of them.

      -Mike
  • by hondo77 (324058) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @01:46AM (#19501605) Homepage
    I had someone demand I remove a link to someone in a rather heavy-handed way. Oh yes, it backfired. I bought the .net domain of the person's name and posted the whole email exchange. For years my page ranked higher than her own domain. I just checked now and it's only down to #2 and I don't even own hername.net anymore. As for the guy who tried to sanitize things, I have a separate page for him and it is still #1 when you Google his name. Yeah, these things can backfire if not handled properly.
    • by glindsey (73730)
      I bought the .net domain of the person's name

      This is actually a bit disturbing. I'm not lawyer, but as far as I can tell ICANN rules generally state that if somebody owns your name as a domain name, and uses it to post defamatory information about you, you can have the domain name turned over to you -- similar to the way trademark holders get domain names handed over to them. The problem? It costs $1500 to file a claim with the WIPO, a pittance for a business, but crippling for an individual. And forget
      • by hondo77 (324058)
        As I understand it, they can't get it back under that condition. If you have a legitimate use for the domain, which posting an email exchange is, as opposed to "Hey, if you want your domain back pay me $10,000", then you can keep the domain. But yes, it is trivially easy to do this. You just need to piss someone off enough to get them to do it. Hence the aforementioned "backfire".
  • Five years ago I got called in to see the boss and was told someone had posted information about our company on a popular investors forum. I thought what I had posted was quite innocent so fessed up. After much deliberation over the next few weeks, I managed to keep my job, mainly because I was open and honest about events.
    However, what I found interesting was that they had for some time used a company in the US who use hoards of bored housewives to Google/MSN/whatever all day for company keywords looking
  • by hmccabe (465882)

    The are several firms that now sell their services

    Are there companies that clean up bad online grammer?

  • I had a company that I wrote an article about on my blog do this - it really hurt my serach engine results for a while. It's very easy to counteract though ... A) Change the wording of the "reputation managed piece" B) If they create a gateway page - contact the ISP or search engines - this is usually a violation of a TOS agreement. C) Expose the company for doing it.

    Dell is notorious for this - they did it extensively with the "exploding battery" issue.
  • Why not just register a personal site with "your side" of whatever else people will find on the net? If you have got a personal site registered with your name at the top, you can guarantee that Google will ensure that's on the first page of their results, and you can explain yourself to anyone who might be interested in your past. That method is honest, permament, almost free and covers any kind of public indiscretion, heinous USENET posts, or just mistaken identity. I agree trying to "bury" information
    • That method is honest

      Says who?

      • by mattbee (17533)
        Heh, well, of course you can write what you want. But in the context of having information out there which you'd rather people didn't see, but which they *will* see, I was suggesting a potentially honest way of countering it. It's the way Google will *help* an individual counter bad information that it might return about them.
        • And, sadly, it's the way that Google helps individuals counter correct, if unpleasant, information.

          Just another place to apply spin, I'm afraid.

  • ReputationDefender, DefendMyName... Meh. Lame. What about MinistryOfTruth?
  • ...online comments bury you!

    (Crap! Now I've got to pay to get all those stupid Obligatory posts taken down.)

  • It's a good idea to use different user names for different things to prevent people building up a huge picture about you. Certainly don't use a contraction of your real name as your userID.
  • 1) Create an on-line forum where users can post miscellaneous random thoughts (like /.).
    2) Wait a few years while users post more and more bizzare comments.
    3) Start another business that will clean up content when users start having regrets.
    4) ????
    5) Profit!

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