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Inside the Business of Online Reputation Spin 126

The Guardian has a long, thought-provoking piece (it's an excerpt from an upcoming book) on the way that online PR works, when individuals or organizations pay online spin doctors to change the way they're perceived online. Embarrassing photos, ill-considered social media posts, even quips that have ended up geting the speaker into hot water, can all be crowded out, even if not actually expunged, by injecting lots of innocuous information, photos, and other bits of information. That crowding out seems to be the reputation managers' prime tactic. Besides a brush of his own with identity theft (or at least unwanted borrowing), the author spoke at length with both Adria Richards and "Hank"; both of whom ended up losing their jobs in the aftermath of what became known as Donglegate, after Richards tweeted about jokes that she overheard Hank and another developer share at PyCon 2013.
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Inside the Business of Online Reputation Spin

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  • by retech ( 1228598 ) on Sunday February 22, 2015 @08:01PM (#49107969)
    This method works well to give privacy to an individual as well. If there's enough garbage information out there to effectively make it impossible to figure out truth from fact, then it's easy enough to hide in plain google site.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Making believable bad information go away is hard. You could fix your problems by doing the reputation.com approach of posting lots of credible good information (which can help some), or you could drown it out in non-credible bad stuff. You don't want the real *chan crowd mad at you, but enough posts from known 7chan trolls about your mother being a hamster and your father smelling like elderberries and photoshopped pictures of you doing evil things with hamsters and elderberries can make it hard to find

  • To influence a community run place like wikipedia ? Even though we have seen this happen it has not lasted for long .
    • Doesn't matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Sunday February 22, 2015 @09:05PM (#49108215) Homepage Journal

      Wikipedia carries a great deal of bad and misleading information, as well as attacks and cover-ups. The editing (by which I mean arbitrary, supervision-free, largely random and often outright wrong top-down meddling with content) is nothing short of terrible. What keeps Wikipedia going is the users. What keeps setting it back is the meddling from above. Nothing has ever managed to keep misinformation out of it -- in either direction. That said, Wikipedia has long since mutated from its optimum form -- actually open -- into a pseudo-intellectual grandstand for its operators, replete with locked pages carrying their opinions to the masses.

      • what is the solution ? any suggestions ? I really like wikipedia and can't see it being "manupilated"
        • Don't trust wikipedia for any controversial subjects. As always seek lots of different information and make up your own mind.

          Use wikipedia for the footnotes. Ignore the article.

      • If WP's facts don't line up with your political preconceptions, try Conservapedia [conservapedia.com]
      • and yet it's superior to any alternative you might suggest, because any traditional top down organization is obviously far more biased and with an agenda

        we're human beings. we're all biased. if you want your media to be free of bias, you will never read anything ever again

        having said that, a nonprofit group of random individuals is about as bias free as you will ever get

        there is a big difference between obviously biased and attempting to smear, and trying as hard as possible to being unbiased and a smatteri

        • we're human beings. we're all biased. if you want your media to be free of bias, you will never read anything ever again

          That would be indeed more of a solution than a problem.

          But in reality, people who want their media to be free of bias rather tend to consider media, that shares their own bias as bias free.

          • people who want their media to be free of bias rather tend to consider media, that shares their own bias as bias free.

            that's restating the problem in terms of immaturity

            "only media which conforms to my prejudices is 'bias free'" is a statement of ignorance

            "everything has bias, some of it residual and unintentional, some of it purposeful and by design" is a statement of maturity and education

            and then you choose the media where the bias is residual and unintentional. or even better, you choose many media sources, from different countries, even including those with bias, and see the truth through the spectrum of interpretatio

            • you can't tell the difference between obvious propaganda and a news organization which tries hard to be impartial?

              Of course I can do that. That's easy. The problem starts where you have to tell the difference between non-obvious propaganda and sloppy journalism due to budget reasons.

              Yes, your course of action (reading and comparing multiple sources) would help, but boils down to do your own research and become your own expert, just to recognize bad newspaper articles.

              And if that wouldn't be hard enough, you would have to be self-reflecting enough to recognize your own bias. Which is harder than you think, because to yo

              • well said, i agree with everything, except

                And it takes a really scientific mindest to accept that what you know may be completly wrong.

                no, it's a character issue, not a knowledge issue

                it's called humility

                the dumbest moron in the world, who has an open mind and is willing to learn, is a better person than the scientific genius who is smugly certain in his knowledge and sneers off all challenges

                ignorance isn't really the problem in this world

                we're all ignorant, about something

                the problem is *prideful* ignorance

                the idea that "i know all i need to know and don't need to consider new evidence" is perhap

  • adria richards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday February 22, 2015 @08:17PM (#49108033) Homepage
    You know she is STILL out there spewing hate and racism? I checked her twitter page out after being reminded of who she was a few months back and shes still out there saying the same things that got her in trouble the first time.
    • Re:adria richards (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hermitdev ( 2792385 ) on Sunday February 22, 2015 @08:57PM (#49108167)

      Yeah, the interview doesn't exactly paint her in any better of a light than people already hold her in. In her own words she basically states she's racist and sexist with a possible religious bias:

      “Not too bad,” she said. She thought more and shook her head decisively. “He’s a white male. I’m a black Jewish female. He was saying things that could be inferred as offensive to me, sitting in front of him.

      (emphasis mine). The way that's phrased, to me, states that she was not offended, but chose to manufacture offense via the photo & tweets, and that resulted in real world damage to peoples lives. Not just to the two men, but their families, as well.

      While I do think that a lot of the stuff that was done and said to her after this incident are despicable, it doesn't make her any less of a hurtful, spiteful, vindictive, hypocritical, hateful excuse of a human being. Additionally, her comment about Downs Syndrome is just...disturbing.

      • While I do think that a lot of the stuff that was done and said to her after this incident are despicable, it doesn't make her any less of a hurtful, spiteful, vindictive, hypocritical, hateful excuse of a human being. Additionally, her comment about Downs Syndrome is just...disturbing.

        agreed. people took it too far, with the death threats and whatnot. but it is really hard to feel bad for her when she makes comments like these https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          I didn't watch more than a few seconds of the video because I'm at work, but do you really think a video posted by anonymous is likely to show her comments in context? Maybe she does think that way, but don't you think you should find a more reliable source before making up your mind?

          I note that the GP didn't like to the article they quoted either. If I were not so generous I'd assume that was to prevent people getting the complete context in which it was said. For the benefit of the discussion, here is a l

          • I posted that because it showed her literal twitter posts. there is nothing misleading in that video. her side of the story can be found as well, and was given in the interview in the main article
          • I quoted directly from the article of the interview. Sorry I did not indicate that, just sort of assumed it would be conveyed.
      • i just got around to reading the article and wow. shes even worse than I recall

        Ten months later, I was sitting opposite Adria Richards in a cafe at San Francisco airport. She seemed introverted and delicate, just the way Hank had come across over Google Hangout. She told me about the moment she overheard the comment about the big dongle. “Have you ever had an altercation at school and you could feel the hairs rise up on your back?” she asked me.

        “You felt fear?” I asked.

        “Danger,” she said. “Clearly my body was telling me, ‘You are unsafe.’”

        Which was why, she said, even though she’d never before complained about sexual harassment, she “slowly stood up, rotated from my hips, and took three photos”. She tweeted one, “with a very brief summary of what they said. Then I sent another tweet describing my location. Right? And then the third tweet was the [conference’s] code of conduct.”

        “You talked about danger,” I said. “What were you imagining might?”

        “Have you ever heard that thing, men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them?” she replied. “So. Yeah.”

        'He’s a white male,' Adria said. 'I’m a black Jewish female. He said things that could be inferred as offensive to me' I told Adria that people might consider that an overblown thing to say. She had, after all, been at a tech conference with 2,000 bystanders.

        “Sure,” she replied. “And those people would probably be white and they would probably be male.”

        This woman clearly has not learned a thing in the past 2 years. Which would explain why hank (the guy she got fired) got a job the next day, and she still has no job

        • Re:adria richards (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Monday February 23, 2015 @01:32AM (#49109379)

          Can we be clear on one thing? Adria Richards did not get Hank Whoeveritis fired. The faceless Internet mob got them both fired.

          This woman clearly has not learned a thing in the past 2 years.

          I don't know if she correctly remembers what she felt in the moment. However, the incident will, for her, always be associated with actual rape and death threats. Why the hell wouldn't the overwhelming memory from the whole incident be "unsafe"?

          What she has learned in the past two years is that the faceless Internet mob will do its best to make every stereotype (about how women and people with lots of melanin get treated in the tech industry) a reality. Whether or not her actions were justified in the moment is irrelevant; the subsequent shitstorm proved her right.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          You are implying that her fear was unjustified, but the reaction seen in the days after the event suggest was it was fully justified. It turns out that there are a lot of violent asshats out there who are willing to threaten rape and injury. Who knows if they will carry them out, but no-one should be required to find out before starting to worry.

          If you don't want to be associated with the people who do that sort of thing don't act like them. Stick the conference rules, which are there for the precise reason

          • You are implying that her fear was unjustified, but the reaction seen in the days after the event suggest was it was fully justified.

            Im not sure this is even logical. Because event B caused fear, , then fear was justified prior and during to event A, which was simple overhearing someone elses conversation that had nothing to do with the person claiming "fear"

            yeah, I am fearful everytime i walk in public because others are talking to each other....

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

              She assumed that most of the people there were fine, until some of them started acting like the ones who are abusive.

      • Re:adria richards (Score:4, Insightful)

        by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Monday February 23, 2015 @04:09AM (#49109769) Journal
        She also inferred that if he got up and attacked her, the mostly white male crowd would have done nothing to protect her. She still honestly believes what she FELT was a legitimate reason to ruin a person's life. She said directly that she knew exactly what she was doing when she took the picture, she goes on to say that because he had the temerity to complain about what she did, he is responsible for the trolls that go after her. She is a very sick person.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        You have cherry picked one small quote from the article in order to misrepresent her position. You then make various unfounded assumptions based on that quote, basically doing the same thing that you accuse her of.

        In context she was saying that the speaker should have been aware that he might cause offence to the person in front of him. In that situation a reasonable person would have realized that what they were saying could offend the listener. I'm sure someone will start complaining about free speech and

        • I picked a singular, complete, quote from her, directly, that appears to be very telling of her mindset. I'm not assuming anything, I'm exercising literacy and understanding words of the English language. "could have offended" is not the same as "offended". I didn't try and reconstitute what I thought I heard someone behind me said at conference after I heard the word "dongle". Walk down the street or mingle among any large crowd of people. You'll likely, in very short order, hear a lot of things taken out
    • Re:adria richards (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Sunday February 22, 2015 @10:17PM (#49108537)

      To be fair, these people make good money going that through very specific crowd on Patreon. It's their business model.

      That is why they are called "professional victims".

    • Sexism, Too (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Sunday February 22, 2015 @10:18PM (#49108547)
      And no one should forget that she was also caught making at least one dick joke that same week:
      http://media.tumblr.com/ed5aea... [tumblr.com]

      I personally don't consider any of the jokes sexist, but they absolutely make her a hypocrite.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        You can't tell the difference between making a tame joke on Twitter and a run-on joke at a professional conference that is specifically against the conference code of conduct and also happens to be at a talk about helping young people and especially young girls into coding?

        There is a time and a place for dick jokes. A PyCon talk is neither.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          A private comment to your friend during a presentation by someone else is completely harmless.

          Still can't believe how SJWs will defend hypocrisy to the death.

          • by emj ( 15659 )

            A private comment to your friend

            Common power tactic, I'm sure they thought it was really funny and wanted everyone to hear.

  • EveryDamnBody is an "ist" somehow and in someway. i hate Duke and their coach and the basketball team. but that's just me.
  • A google search of Lindsey Stone shows the images that she wanted to suppress, and lots of stories about her experience with her bad reputation.

    It looks like anything done by reputation.com has been washed away by the more recent stories about her.

    • Let's not give her another 15 minutes...

    • Well at least the "incident" has a better context unless you're the sort to do a pure image search? Now the internet knows she's just another plain jane who did something stupid.

    • A google search of Lindsey Stone shows the images that she wanted to suppress,

      Was it the middle finger pic from the Tomb of the Unknowns?

      You just never know what will rile up the Internet Mob these days.

  • or was reversed by the guardian article - 23 out of the 26 first google-image searches now show me that hillarious/offending picture. in the case of adria richards - i think it's quite ironic that her getting hank fired monumentally backfired. they both lost a lot because of her overreacting, but she clearly got it worse. which seems quite fair to me.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court