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The Internet Privacy

Online Reputation Management To Keep Your Nose Clean? 125

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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  • Re:Not for everyone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @02:40PM (#22264584) Homepage Journal
    What might work better is to offer counselling on how to craft a truly anonymous persona for yourself (for the naughty bits) and how to keep it separated from your real persona--and, of course, counselling on how to take care of your real online persona, and perhaps a service to check up on it from time to time.

    (If anyone out there wanted to hire me for that service, I'd be more'n willing for a very reasonable rate... ;-P )
  • Re:Anonymous Coward (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WaltBusterkeys ( 1156557 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @03:17PM (#22265170)
    At the very least the person who's reputation was being trashed should have contacted the hosting site and asked for the conversation to be taken down.

    They did. The hosting site claimed that they were immune under CDA 230 [wikipedia.org] and refused.

    sued for Libel and possibly other things

    There is a lawsuit pending, but the plaintiffs can't find any of the people who made the libels. The hosting site deleted or didn't keep IP logs, claiming that they didn't have to. And the hosting site claims that it's immune under CDA 230.

    The problem is really CDA 230. If a web host can knowingly continue to publish libel by saying "it's not my fault, it's some user who came on and posted" then they should have to keep IP logs so that the user can be found and sued for libel. If the end user can't be found then the web host should have to take the material down. Right now the libelous material is still up and nothing can be done. Of course, it should take a subpoena to get IP addresses from a webhost, and there should be a showing of probable cause, but there has to be something done to fix CDA 230.
  • by WaltBusterkeys ( 1156557 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @03:31PM (#22265324)
    The problem isn't your myspace account -- you are smart enough to keep it clean. It's if your FRIENDS have a myspace account and post a picture of you, then tag it with your name. Or even if just your acquaintences.

    Or if some Anonymous Coward just lies completely and claims that a photo is of you (when it really isn't) just to be a jerk. If they post it through TOR then they can never be found. And a site like Encyclopedia Dramatica would never take it down. ED will claim that they're immune from liability forever under CDA 230, and the anonymous poster will never be found. It's a wierd situation where a bad act can go completely unpunished, even if the webhost knows that there's a problem.
  • Try Asking, Nicely (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hittman ( 81760 ) on Friday February 01, 2008 @04:25PM (#22266114) Homepage
    Here's something that might work: Ask, nicely.

    Back in '99 I wrote an article [davehitt.com] about someone who threatened lawsuits against people who had posted his poem. Last summer I got an e-mail from him ,asking, not demanding, that I take the article down because it was the first thing that came up when someone searched on his name. It was ancient history and not something he was proud of.

    I thought about it a bit, and, rather than remove the article, removed his name from it. It took about a month for Google to forget, but now when you search on his name the article is nowhere to be found.

    If he had demanded that it be taken down, I would have laughed and ignored him. If he had threatened legal action, I would have blogged about it and brought it even more attention. But he asked. That made all the difference.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson