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Shady Methods From Online Reputation Managers 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-the-internet-forget dept.
Velcroman1 writes "Worried about your online reputation? Let the Online Reputation Management buyer beware: The company that helps protect your reputation may have its own issues. Consider the case of Darren Meade, who in 2010 was working as interim CEO at a California company. In an effort to address a number of negative comments about both himself and his company online, his company hired Rexxfield, an ORM, also based in California. But Meade said he became concerned about the relationship with Rexxfield when he discovered the company wanted to sell illegal hacker code to scrub negative comments from the web — and planned a marketing campaign of fear based on the threat that it can wipe anyone offline. 'They called it Googlecide,' Meade said."
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Shady Methods From Online Reputation Managers

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  • fear? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tsingi (870990) <graham...rick@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 20, 2012 @03:35PM (#38766072)

    ... planned a marketing campaign of fear ...

    It's pretty much the only marketing strategy that is used nowadays. It used to be that sex was ubiquitous, now it's fear.

  • That fills me with sadness. Do people really fret and worry over their online reputation? As if they where somehow unable to control what they type on forums and thus need a third party to fix their own actions? And why cant you just change your online "identity"? Last I checked, very few places require or even encourage the use of your real name.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      If you're a consultant a bad reputation, even if undeserved, can torpedo your ability to make a living at it. Changing an online identity only works if you were smart enough to not use your real identity in the first place.

      • There was a serial killer with the same name as me that was captured and executed decades ago. It used to be the first thing every client would see in a web search... lurid descriptions of a series of horrific murders.

        Now they see naked pictures of a woman with the same name as me - which is a bit odd since it's a traditionally male name, but at least it's a step up in reputation.

        Seriously, if you can't convince people you aren't a serial killer or porn star you're unlikely to be able to work effectively a

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          Seriously, if you can't convince people you aren't a serial killer or porn star you're unlikely to be able to work effectively as a consultant anyway. A minimal set of people skills are pretty much required.

          That's a very secondary requirement to the ability to do the job. At least, it's considered pretty important in my industry ; I don't know about yours.

          • How do you get to the point where you can prove your ability to do the job if some HR drone hasn't got the brains to work out that you probably aren't the person with the same name who's a serial killer, on account of him being behind bars?

    • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday January 20, 2012 @03:41PM (#38766168)
      When it's a real world business trying to sell a product or attract users, then yes. And for every case i've seen where a company/person has acted badly and gotten rightly flamed for it online, i've seen companies/people that acted fairly reasonably and gotten flamed for it online anyways.

      The degree to which such negative publicity matters is probably highly dependent on a lot of factors that vary on a case by case basis, and whether anything can be done to "fix" the negative publicity probably varies a lot too. But the concern that your company/product is getting trashed online is certainly a real one.
      • by Kenja (541830)
        OK, I could kind of see it in the case of a business. But more often then not, that strikes me as people simply being unhappy that they didn't get five stars on yelp etc.
        • by Tsingi (870990)

          OK, I could kind of see it in the case of a business. But more often then not, that strikes me as people simply being unhappy that they didn't get five stars on yelp etc.

          Not sure what Yelp was, (a cursory glance), Yahoo! ?

          Nowadays virtually no one cares if they appear literate. Who wants to hire someone for a responsible position when they can't be bothered to learn how to spell?

      • You mean like ATi hiring people to write opensource drivers just have all the fanbois tell people to "use Nvidia?"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What about the case where someone else with the same name as you is posting stuff online that tarnishes your name?

    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday January 20, 2012 @03:46PM (#38766278)
      This is not about the reputation that people have because of what they post on forums. It is about the reputation that people have because of what other people post about them. Primarily this is about a business' online reputation. With a large enough company that will be determined by its actions, but for a small to moderate sized company an attempt to smear a company online could be devastating (especially if the company is unaware of the attack and does nothing to mitigate it).
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 20, 2012 @03:47PM (#38766290) Homepage

      Do people really fret and worry over their online reputation?

      Heck yes they do.

      For instance, if you were the sort of person who likes to have a few drinks on New Years' Eve, and then one of your friends takes a picture of you and identifies you doing something that would generally be considered not OK in classy society, that could cost you not only your current job, but every job you apply for in the future (This despite the fact that those who are denying you work quite possibly do the same things semi-frequently). It's not about what you posted online, it's about what other people posted about you that can get you into trouble.

      • by edxwelch (600979)

        > if you were the sort of person who likes to have a few drinks on New Years' Eve, and then one of your friends takes a picture of you and identifies you doing something that would generally be considered not OK in classy society

        P.S. Don't fret. If you keep making the payments no one will ever see those photos ;)

      • by Zadaz (950521)

        I've heard a number of people say "Oh, well I've got nothing to worry about, there's nothing with my name on it on the 'net!"

        That makes you the opposite of safe. In about 2 minutes I can post something anonymously about you that may or may not be true, but would paint you in a bad light. Now, because there's nothing else about you online, that's the first result when anyone searches you.

        Take control of your online presence before someone else does. Post good stuff under your real name.* It doesn't have to

    • by Abreu (173023)

      There was a time during 2010 when, if you googled my name, the words "scam artist" would appear as autocompletion.

      This, because I used to work as spokesperson for a company with several very vocal disgruntled ex-customers who had gripe blogs.

      I have changed jobs since, but it took a while for it to go away.

  • The whole basic concept of "reputation management" is shady as hell. What did they expect?

  • [H]e discovered the company wanted to sell illegal hacker code to scrub negative comments from the web — and planned a marketing campaign of fear based on the threat that it can wipe anyone offline.

    Pretty ironic when their own website says:

    Rexxfield serves and protects the “victims of others”; our mandate does not allow us to serve “victims of self”. In other words, if you have done wrong and are being treated harshly for it, your remedy will be through a publicist.

    • It's not just that it would've been illegal; the plan involved almost cartoonishly evil marketing. Seriously, this reads like a masterplan by the Joker.

      “I think there’s a whole other campaign where we can break the parents,” the executive continued. “Send them a picture of their kid with a gun in his mouth -- Google did it. ‘Little Johnny is going to commit Google-cide. Can you stop it?’”

      ...and then we kill a MAN DRESSED LIKE A BAT.

    • More irony ~ Free speech is the original intent of lawmakers in most civilized societies. http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1046638--child-of-botched-plastic-surgery-victim-cries-where-s-my-mummy-panel-hears [thestar.com] A surgeon in Toronto, Canada had been listed on consumer advocacy website http://ripoffreport.com/ [ripoffreport.com] claiming she was not a plastic surgeon and had been charged with medical malpractice and a death of a patient. This caused a significant drop in new patients for the doctor. The doctor needed to have
  • comes from a news agency that hacks into cellphones and bribe police. draw your own conclusions.
  • If I run a website with a forum and there is a discussion that paints some company or individual in a negative light (and let's assume that it isn't slander for argument's sake), what can one of these reputation management companies possibly do? Wouldn't everyone just tell them to fuck off?

  • Googlecide = "Killing Googles"?
  • Did anyone else's brain refuse to continue processing the rest of the summary when the words "illegal hacker code" were used? I mean, my BS detector went crazy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Read their response to the Fox News article:

    http://www.rexxfield.com/blog/2012/01/response-to-foxnews-com%E2%80%99s-article-on-rexxfield%E2%80%99s-online-reputation-management-practices/

  • Our school (Score:4, Informative)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Friday January 20, 2012 @04:28PM (#38766896)

    Public organizations, like schools, often wind up upsetting people even when they are doing the right thing and its an easy, cheap shot to make all sorts of unfounded vicious comments about them online. In the case of the nonsense someone posted about our school, one of the other parents contacted greatschools.com and they removed the offending post with out any fuss. So it does not always take much to get these comments removed.

    You might be offended by the "censorship" aspect of this, but not everyone posts in good faith, even here on /. And one pissed, motivated, person can make a lot of vitriolic posts in a short amount of time. I wish there were a better way to let justified complaints come to the fore.

    • by Raenex (947668)

      You might be offended by the "censorship" aspect of this, but not everyone posts in good faith, even here on /.

      Wow, I'm shocked by this allegation. Maybe I should write to the editors and have your post removed.

      Thankfully, Slashdot doesn't take down posts "without any fuss".

  • ...spammers lie, phishers deceive, and malware authors release malicious code.

    I thought it was common knowledge among thinking people that all ORM operations are dishonest and sleazy -- that they are not only selling a product they cannot possibly deliver, but that they use unethical and abusive methods in the process.

    I blacklist their domains on sight; there is no reason whatsoever to treat them any differently from any of the other filth on the Internet.
    • I read that "all Object-Relation Mappers are dishonest and sleazy". Gah. Online Reputation Managers; SEO-vs-CEO is another clash that can easily happen in this subject.

  • http://www.rexxfield.com/blog/2012/01/response-to-foxnews-com [rexxfield.com]’s-article-on-rexxfield’s-online-reputation-management-practices/ Rexxfield was founded on the lessons learnt whilst dealing with the personal and painful attacks against the founder’s reputation by those closest to him. Michael’s antagonist is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole behind some very strong prison bars; due in part to Michael’s cooperation and investigations. As Rexxfield move
  • A related business idea - unreputation management:
    Nice reputation ya got there. Shame if somethin happened to it.

  • Every time one of these Reputation Management firms' commercials came on, I felt un-easy about it. I mean SEO is one thing, but these people claimed to basically guarantee Search Result Supremacy, and even silence of negative content, for a fee. I guess what always bothered me was the fact that they're entire purpose in life is to control the content you view on the internet. I'm not surprised that their methods are shady, after all what they claim to provide is no small task. I wouldn't be surprised eit
  • I think Cricket does this -- which is a mobile carrier that most normal people all know and realize sucks, moreso than AT&T -- which is hard to do. Primary it caters to (and exploits) people in disadvantaged communities and the working poor. You mainly find Cricket near rent-to-own establishments, et. al. So you may know someone with a Cricket phone yourself because they have no choice - they need a pay as you go phone and have little cash - this is recession after all.

    Regardless, everytime I have made

    • I have a close relative who works for Cricket on the technical side of things. I don't use their service and his phone is provided to him so I can't comment on the service. But, I am privvy to frequent conversations of just how seriously borked Cricket management is. The policies, rules, and actions defy logic and common sense far more often than not and they treat their hourly employees (who have no union unlike some other carriers) like disposable tools. It's a sad situation and I'm still amazed that

  • The money Michael Robert utilized to pay the hacker came from a Toronto doctor: "who in May was found guilty of incompetence and unprofessional conduct by Ontario’s medical watchdog in her care of five patients including Stryland, who died after having liposuction in September 2007. She was 32 years old and the mother of a young boy." This was deployed to silence the voice of victims trying to warn others of a person performing plastic surgery without the proper training. When people began to warn o
  • The Repairer of Reputations may send you the Yellow Sign.

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