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The Internet Privacy

Online Reputation Management To Keep Your Nose Clean? 125

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the if-you-don't-want-it-printed-don't-do-it dept.
Techdirt is reporting that as a response to all the hoopla about people being able to Google for information on potential employees (or lovers) a new market has opened up in "online reputation management". This seems to be the ultimate realization of those dubious firms who promised to scrub your records clean from a few years back. "From the description in the article, it sounds like this involves a combination of search engine optimization, plus legal bullying of anyone who says something you don't like. If anything, that sounds like a recipe for more trouble, but you can see how it would appeal to those who are unhappy with how they're perceived online. Obviously, it's no fun to have something bad about you exposed online, but efforts to suppress that information have a decent likelihood of backfiring and serving to highlight that information. I wonder if these online reputation managers have malpractice insurance for when that happens?"
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Online Reputation Management To Keep Your Nose Clean?

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  • by pthor1231 (885423) on Friday February 01, 2008 @02:14PM (#22264150)
    the "article" It's a fucking paragraph, and 5 of the 6 links it has are back to itself. What a crock
  • Non-crappy-blog link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2008 @02:17PM (#22264204)
    I find bizzare and almost Kafkaesque that Scuttlemonkey has quoted, and linked to, and article which begins 'From the description in the article...'.

    Anyway, the real article is at

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/080130/technology/lifestyle_us_internet_technology_rights [yahoo.com]

    and says

    WASHINGTON (AFP) - A new breed of image-manager is emerging in the United States to take on the masked and hooded cybermobs who, bolstered by anonymity and weak laws, launch damaging attacks on other web users.

    "We are seeing online mobs emerge and launch attacks... with significant consequences, both to the people online and to their reputation offline," University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron told AFP.

    The anonymity afforded by the Internet "gives people a kind of strength to be much harsher than they would be in person," Georgetown University sociology professor, and co-founder of International Reputation Management (IRM) Christine Schiwietz said.

    Reputation managers step in where the law has failed, to provide "digital botox" to names in need of repair, as Schiwietz put it.

    A group of women law students at prestigious Yale University who were attacked online, in what has come to be known as the Auto-Admit scandal, have taken on the services of reputation management group, Reputation Defender.

    "Auto-Admit was ostensibly a site for getting advice about going to law school, but it degenerated into attacks on named women who were accused of having herpes, having abortions. They got rape threats, death threats," said Citron.

    In a posting made last year, and which remains on the web and AFP was able to see, one of the students was called a whore and had lewd references made to her anatomy by numerous assailants who hid behind bogus pseudonyms such as Marty Lipton King Jr.

    Anonymity and strength in numbers are fueling the online attacks.

    "Five years ago, you had to create a website to get information on the Internet. That site could be traced to an IP address and there was some accountability," Nino Kader of IRM said.

    "But Google owns blogs created on blogger.com. So there is a lack of accountability and that is one reason why people are getting pretty malicious out there," he said.

    Citron likened vicious cyber-mobs to the mob mentality of the Ku Klux Klan.

    "If you're in a crowd where people hold the same negative view as you, and you feel anonymous, you're going to do things you would never dream of doing if you had no mask and hood on," Citron said.

    Reputation Defender is paying for a lawsuit filed by the women in the Auto-Admit case against their attackers, but up to now, victims of cyber-thuggery have had little redress in the courts.

    "The law doesn't allow victims to sue the site operators because they aren't writing this stuff," said Citron.

    "The difficulty in moving against the poster is that they often write under a pseudonym, are often not required to register with a site before posting, or use anonymizing technology. They are totally masked," she added.

    Step in the reputation managers: they not only react to online maligning, as Reputation Defenders did in the Auto-Admit case, but also tout proactivity as the best tool to protect clients from online character assassination.

    "It's more and more important to know what's out there about you," IRM's Kader said.

    IRM concentrates on how clients appear in a Google search because "unless you are a hermit, you will be googled," Schiwietz said.

    "There are around 10,000 Google searches made each second, and googling is expected to double or triple because you will be able to do a search anywhere with a handheld device," Kader said.

    "I've been at meetings where people have googled the person opposite them," he added.

    One method used by IRM to buff someone's Internet legacy is to get the good news about them as high up in Go
  • Re:Anonymous Coward (Score:3, Informative)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday February 01, 2008 @02:19PM (#22264240)
    This definitely isn't going to work- see Streisand effect [wikipedia.org].

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