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Companies That Clean Up Bad Online Reputations

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the it-never-happened dept.

The Internet 180

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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180 comments

Suspicion (5, Insightful)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500279)

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 (4, Interesting)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500573)

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 (3, Interesting)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501007)

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:Suspicion (2, Insightful)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501275)

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.

Re:Suspicion (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502035)

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

on the other hand (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501587)

My name seems to bring up several scholars and doctors. Heh, it's not such a horrible association.

Re:on the other hand (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501799)

Musicians, and one mathematician for me. I'm not a particularly good musician, either.

Re:Suspicion (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500577)

wait wait... people use their real identities online???

Re:Suspicion (4, Interesting)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Suspicion (2, Interesting)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501643)

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 speech and publication. I can still remember talking about hiring practices and being told that to read a reference from a previous employer, you only use what is said to compare against what isn't. There are standard things you expect to read - ie, punctual, trustworthy etc. No-one ever writes "This person is late to every shifts and steals from me" - the ex-employee would just toss it out. But if you omit saying certain things, to an experience office manager you can get your point across whilst the ex-employee thinks they got a great reference. The web is an organic information mass. Anyone trying to carve even small chunks out of that mass is going to create unnatural gaps that will draw notice.

Re:Suspicion (1)

jack455 (748443) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501907)

Exactly; assuming you mean the hd-dvd key that the industry tried to hide.

I didn't even hear about it until the press changed from someone breaking the protection to the fact that there was a key that no one was supposed to post.

There was also a case of a drug company trying to hide the details of deaths surrounding a certain drug treatment. A judge even ruled it was illegal to disseminate, but that didn't stop and probably encouraged its widespread availability.

It might be off-topic, but I get the feeling that the temptation of security by obscurity, just like with web browsers, makes people dream of getting the genie back in the bottle. ("If I can't see you, you can't see me.")

Like a security flaw, if the information was out there it will most likely be utilized. Someone will have a copy.

Disturbing (3, Interesting)

royrules22 (1115273) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500315)

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.

Re:Disturbing (1)

royrules22 (1115273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500327)

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 privacy is a good thing, painting a false picture of yourself for the internets/public is not.

Re:Disturbing (1)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501699)

This seems a bit naive to me. To speak of "no-good" person, I assume you mean criminal. You might mean morally no-good, but really, if they're doing something you find offensive morally (excessive drinking, participating in obscure religions, sodomy...) and they can find a way to keep it off the net, more power too them. It's really no-one else's business whilst they're obeying the law. If they're breaking the law, thats different. However, this sounds very similar to the anti-drugs, anti-guns type laws and arguments that go on in the US and here in Australia, to a lesser degree. The idea is, that if you make it hard to do something (by making it illegal is a perfect example), then people wont do it. The truth is of course that people who want to do it, do it. If you did stop these companies from helping people to paint a false picture of themselves, as you put it, by making it illegal or shooting them, however you'd do it, you would definately stop some people from doing it. Some of the privacy obsessed who hate the idea that info about them floats about would have to deal...a lot of casual users info would remain untouched. Those that really wanted the info gone. The real "no-good" guys, would make the info gone, and have been making it gone i'm sure. As Penn and Teller said in their episode on gun control - "How, you might ask, does a convicted criminal get a gun when it's against the law for them to do so? THEY BREAK THE LAW". That is, after all, the definition of a criminal.

Re:Disturbing (1)

VariableGHz (1099185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500349)

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 (2, Interesting)

ukemike (956477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501525)

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.

Now almost 10 years later, even I, with my better than average search skills and first hand knowledge of things like past email addresses and what groups I had posted in, CANNOT find most of that embarrassing stuff. It's just too buried. Though I imagine that someday soon some totally unheard of search engine with some radical new approach will make it easy to uncover all of that ancient sillyness. I guess I learned my "myspace" lesson early.

Re:Disturbing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500335)

It's hardly that concerning.

I've taken then time to remove some old newgroup postings from Google Groups, and I've gone through and removed some stuff I said from editable forum postings.

When have we ever had a record of everything people say so easily accessible by the general public at large? The internet isn't that old, and it wasn't exactly obvious that things you posted to newsgroups would be archived forever. And, at that early time, a lot of people used real names.

I see no major problem with these services.

Re:Disturbing (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500919)

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.

Re:Disturbing (1)

nyquist_theorem (262542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501521)

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 have all admitted (or at least lied poorly about, which is the same thing really) past indiscretions, but they were largely able to control when the news of those indiscretions came out. Tomorrow's politicians know they won't be so lucky. 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. Which, like it or not, is not the sort of past from which a real leader comes.

Google's new shorter-term memory is only a start. What other steps should be taken? Dunno. Which is why most of my most entertaining moments usually end with 'whoops, guess I won't be getting into politics now!' (My educational background is in political science, which makes the joke passably humourous. Or so I tell myself.)

Re:Disturbing (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501579)

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:Disturbing (1)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501935)

Completely - At what point did we decide our leaders had to be perfect? Sainthood is for religions, not leaders. I mean really, is it so terrible if a president/prime minister/whatever smoked a bit of pot once? Or if he likes to get blowjobs in the oval office? We should be reserving that sort of disgust for people who prey on the weak, and steal and cheat huge quantities of money. I'm not talking about shoplifting when they were fifteen to impress their friends, but real crimes. I can tell you, the majority of Australians (of my social crowds anyway ;) ) couldn't work out what the big deal was with the Clinton problems. Sure cheating sucks, makes him a lousy husband and some would say a pretty lousy person. Doesn't make him a bad president. Starting wars with countries based on hidden agenda's aimed at stealing wealth from the citizens of those countries. Thats a pretty lousy president. But aren't we lucky he isn't getting head.

Re:Disturbing (2, Funny)

neonmonk (467567) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502135)

What a fabulous idea!

*holds breath*

it's true (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:it's true (0, Troll)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500833)

Could that indicate that he thought someone was going to recognise his stretched out asshole & tell everyone about it anyway ?

Re:it's true (2, Funny)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502341)

I can imagine the situation. The goatse family sitting there browsing the web and gran ma says "Hey, I recognise that lower colon!"

Re:it's true (1)

Gojaroo (987220) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501369)

The fact that you know about that in depth might not be good for your online reputation. Ha.

ReputationDefender and DefendMyName Suck! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500311)

And they kill babies and rape puppies! Or maybe it's the other way around!?

(Let's see them defend themselves against THAT!)

Re:ReputationDefender and DefendMyName Suck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500643)

And they kill babies and rape puppies! Or maybe it's the other way around!?

....In Soviet Russia, puppies rape you?

Re:ReputationDefender and DefendMyName Suck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501043)

They kill rape and baby puppies?

Re:ReputationDefender and DefendMyName Suck! (1)

ABasketOfPups (1004562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501187)

I can't begin to tell you how disturbing that is, either way.

This has been happening for years... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500331)

Microsoft have been using this technique for years... they outsource a company called "Fanboys"

Re:This has been happening for years... (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500889)

Mr. Kutaragi? I thought you retired?

Re:This has been happening for years... (3, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501215)

Microsoft have been using this technique for years... they outsource a company called "Fanboys"

No, fanboys tend to be a spontaneous thing. Microsoft's astroturf is much more calculated, and has involved a company called DCI [sourcewatch.org] .

DCI have funded groups like Americans for Technology Leadership (ATL), and the Association for Competitive Technology to shill for MS in the past.

The current astroturf campaigns here and in other blogs is likely to be coordinated by DCI or a similar PR firm.

Logic (2)

mauddib~ (126018) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500351)

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).

In my case... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500361)

In my case, the first thing they'd have to do is take down Slashdot. Yeah, like that'd work. :)

Re:In my case... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500525)

If they're clueful at all, they'd submit a story about slashdot, complete with a link. Has slashdot ever been slashdotted?

Re:In my case... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500839)

That comment might be funny, if you weren't such a pedantic faggot [wikipedia.org] in real life as well as online.

Re:In my case... (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500917)

Maybe they can get you some karma points on slashdot! :)

This can extend beyond personal reputations.. (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500367)

.. 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 (5, Interesting)

narced (1078877) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500373)

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 (4, Interesting)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500797)

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.

Re:wayback machine (1)

DaveLatham (88263) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501177)

I followed your suggestion and went to look. However, it seems to say this:

"How can I remove my site's pages from the Wayback Machine?

The Internet Archive is not interested in preserving or offering access to Web sites or other Internet documents of persons who do not want their materials in the collection. By placing a simple robots.txt file on your Web server, you can exclude your site from being crawled as well as exclude any historical pages from the Wayback Machine."

and further down it says:

"Sometimes a web site owner will contact us directly and ask us to stop crawling or archiving a site, and we endevor to comply with these requests. When you come accross a 'blocked site error' message, that means that a siteowner has made such a request and it has been honored."

http://www.archive.org/about/faqs.php#The_Wayback_ Machine [archive.org]

Re:wayback machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501745)

um... note the phrases "your Web site" and "siteowner". So to recap, you can have the archive removed IF it's your Web server, or you have the site owner's agreement to take it down. They don't specify any other criteria, but they seem principled in favor of freedom of information, and they're just reproducing and attributing content that's already there or been there.

Careful there Vicar (1)

democrates (1055572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500377)

The number one danger is posting to bulletin boards. I got the 2600.com hope conference dvd special with a private dick presentation on the state of the art in stealation of private data, and it scared me.

Never use your real name, always post anonymously, always, without fail.

Re:Careful there Vicar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500487)

Ok then...

Employees/Employers (3, Interesting)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500381)

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.

Facebook and MySpace too (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500615)

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 themselves.

But I see the discrimination as being an increasing threat due to the relative easy and persistence of spreading rumors anonymously. Employee too vital, get dumped? Now, I know this whole article is about companies that fix the problem for $120-$12,000 a year, but we all know how sucessful Internet censorship is.

Re:Employees/Employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501049)

I really don't know how much they think they'll accomplish by running a Google search on a potential employee's name, given that they'll get results for different people with the same name. In my case, my surname is not terribly uncommon and my given name is exceptionally common. I know for a fact that there are multiple people out there with the same name as me, and I can be fairly certain that at least one of them would generate more search engine hits than me.

Re:Employees/Employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501099)

And in fact, I just ran a Google search on my own name, and got to page 20 before I gave up on finding one result that was actually me. It gets better: one of the results with the same name as me, on page 1 no less, is a higher-up in a company I vaguely recall applying for a job at.

Re:Employees/Employers (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501493)

But what if a potential employer (or HR staff, whatever) had done such a search, and found one of your namesake's recipe for crystal meth? You had better hope that employer is smart enough to realise it isn't the same person, but do you honestly believe that?

Re:Employees/Employers (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501317)


  "... 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 ...

This seems like a great idea. I need this bad. (4, Funny)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 7 years ago | (#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

Re:This seems like a great idea. I need this bad. (1)

yabba-dabba-do (948536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501475)

LOL, I wish I had mod points.

My /. comment history (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500411)

Most of the time I try to say something useful, but sometimes I just speak my mind and don't care if people find it annoying. I wonder how much would it cost to eradicate all the useful shit?

Re:My /. comment history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500629)

That's what the "Post Anonymously" checkbox is for... ;-)

Now for my real feelings...

Re:My /. comment history (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501125)

You're gay for Cowboy Neal?

but can they fix karma? (0)

flyneye (84093) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500439)

Hell,if they can fix karma for a price,I can slide Cowboy Neil a fin to bail my own rotten troll ass out.

That explains it (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500441)

I was wondering why the web searches for drag photos of Giuliani are coming up bust.

Re:That explains it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500533)

I was wondering why the web searches for drag photos of Giuliani are coming up bust.
Only if by "coming up bust" you mean being the very first result when searching for "Giuliani" on Google image search.

Re:That explains it (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501283)

Are you kidding? He's got the pictures of him looking goofy in drag for the left, and the pictures of him looking presidential in front of a smoking ruin for the right. Both sides may be a bit annoyed by the image that isn't aimed at them, but the image that is more than makes up for it. And I'm sure if I were part of a pro or anti anything group his PR people could find some speech that makes it sound as if he agrees with me.

been there done that (5, Interesting)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500445)

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

Re:been there done that (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500787)

Instead, you first get 3 pages of "good press," like "Joe Brown is not serving time for beating his wife any more!"

Re:been there done that (1)

klenwell (960296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500939)

Reminds me of something from the Myspace 95 Thesis [wikia.com] :

"Information wants to be free, but then so does misinformation. Protect your identity by freely applying a layer of misinformation."

Good advice.

Re:been there done that (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501649)

Bill? [flickr.com] Is that you?

The Streisand Effect (5, Informative)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500447)

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?

The Streisand Effect in action (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500819)

"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:The Streisand Effect in action (1)

Veinor (871770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501087)

The nomination (link goes to the discussion page) [wikipedia.org] was this:

The article is about a neologism coined by a non notable blogger as a joke. I believe this topic is more suitable for Urban Dictionary than Wikipedia. The list of "Notable cases" of the "Streisand effect" all look like original research to me. I have no doubt that censorship sometimes backfires, but from now on are all such events to be referred to as examples of the "Streisand effect"? A new word that one person or a small group of people have made up and are trying to make catch on is a neologism, and isn't acceptable at Wiktionary [Wikipedia's sister dictionary project], or Wikipedia."
However, given the usage by Forbes and by reading the general consensus, I think it'll probably be kept.

Re:The Streisand Effect in action (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501373)

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.

internet archive anyone? (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#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

Re:internet archive anyone? (1)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501113)

I pose a question on how would/should we deal with those with similiar/same name or similiar/same nickname? I find that much more problematic than trying to remove something you did do. A Company wishes to hire you and does a search. They wouldn't be able to tell one from the other in this case. That i find disturbing. I've had my nickname for over 15 years on forums and usenet to muds and bulletin boards and stuff, and then last spring i started seeing someone with the same nick in california posting book reviews on amazon.com, very wierd. Then again last fall, i noticed someone with my NAME AND NICKNAME that was listed as a high schooler from ohio, needless to say its very disconcerting concerning possible blind searches on names/nicknames.
I know you can always go anonymous, but i've never been a coward and always tend to speak my mind and this would go both ways.

Reputation lmoa (1)

zakeria (1031430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500543)

I find it hard to believe that people still have reputations these days, its no good give it up and have one less thing to worry about!

slashdot is lame as shit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500623)

riced out yugo is better

Their motto (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500683)

ReputationDefender - "Nothing to see here, please move along."

and

DefendMyName - "We created the idea for Rockstar's Bully"

Companies That Clean Up Bad Online Reputations (1)

Hope M. (1106489) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500775)

There a lot of companies out there that are on the wrong track of the business, especially on the side of small and medium based internet companies, I just wonder who is in charge to stop this mess? let's discuss this further, reach me at: http://forum.affiliatebot.com/register.php [affiliatebot.com]

A question of motives (1)

clachaig (1112889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500789)

So these sites offer a sort of anti-googlebomb service for a fee? Lord knows theres enough bad reputations, justified or not, on the net to warrant this kind of service. The main problem as I see it is that the companies actions depend on the motives of each particular client paying to "disappear".

I would hope that these companies can keep their integrity and try to adopt a "do no evil" attitude themselves, as I would hate to see a mercenary approach leading to less useful search results for the majority of web users.

Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500799)

Apple does it on /. all the time.

Interesting ... (2, Informative)

kbahey (102895) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500873)

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] .

hehe.... "backfires"... (3, Funny)

ZPWeeks (990417) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

Re:hehe.... "backfires"... (1)

plierhead (570797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501457)

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.

Re:hehe.... "backfires"... (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501881)

As the other poster mentioned, she clearly wanted to be named in this article and didn't have a problem with it or she wouldn't have volunteered to be interviewed and named as a client.

Nice Try (4, Interesting)

brocktune (512373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500887)

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...

Re:Nice Try (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501047)

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 trying to figure out how I can be in three places at once =]

Same Service, Secretly (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500893)

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...

Not really meant for individuals (1)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500989)

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 that industry.

Re:Not really meant for individuals (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501933)

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 that shouldn't be publicly available, and representing regular people who have been unfairly maligned online.

Some of these efforts can backfire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501013)

Thats what ReputationDefenderDefender and DefendMyNameFromDefendMyName is for.

Reminiscent of a Robert Chambers story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501037)

Paging The King In Yellow [eastoftheweb.com] to this thread...

I hope at least one of these firms is well read enough to have used the Yellow Sign as their logo.

Google Approved? (4, Insightful)

weinrich (414267) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

I've got a better idea... (1)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501257)

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

Repuation Defender - how it works (1)

vic-traill (1038742) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501505)

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 to Profit!!!.

I always feel like an idiot when I read these sorts of articles - there's a lucrative living to be made out of the utterly self-evident. Perhaps I need to learn to *never* underestimate the desire of people to have other folks perform simple and obvious tasks for them for exorbitant fees.

Re:Repuation Defender - how it works (1)

westyx (95706) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501661)

Well, you'd think so, but it's not as self evident as you'd think, especially if you're not technologically literate. Sure, I could google my name, but I'm not good with dealing with people (on or offline) and that's where these people come in.

Re:Repuation Defender - how it works (4, Informative)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

the cure for bad news is more news (1)

kerika (574943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501569)

This brings to mind a story I recently heard on NPR's On The Media. It was about how public webpostings made at age 19 can linger and retain the power to embarass years later. (Transcript of story http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2007/05/25/0 4 [onthemedia.org] here). In her heady youth, Ms. Rafsanjani (now a producer for OTM) wrote a letter to an Iranian newspaper defending America and attacking Iranian policies, and in the typical style of a teenager, her letter was idealistic, impassioned and over-the-top. It mortifies her to this day.

What was interesting to me about this piece was how, despite wishing she could supress the letter, Ms. Rafsanjani eventually became resigned to having this information out there, and although it embarassed her, she welcomed the opportunity to discuss it further on NPR, because it gave her a way to control the story. She wanted people who found that previous piece to know that her thinking had evolved, and that she no longer feels that way. I think that something similar is happening in the article you linked. Although she was unable to get her name off of that one blog, by participating in an article about using "reputation defenders," the first woman in the article is able to get the message out that SHE has changed, that she regrets the incident from her past, and that she wants people to know she is not bigoted. Whatever one thinks of the content of her claims (I don't know enough to say), I think that brings up an important point. The best way to handle certain potentially damaging bits of information in one's past, especially online, is not always to supress it. Sometimes the ideal situation is to go out there and use one's own name to defend oneself, to clarify one's point of view, and give one's own side of the story.

Who would use this? (1)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501597)

I highly doubt anyone with a good grasp on the internet would pay for a service like this. I think most people know that places such as Google are not obligated to do anything.

If you can't get your information off of Google, is it even worth the effort? I think not.

AutoAdmit (2, Interesting)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501601)

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!

Re:AutoAdmit (Mung) (1)

Kryptic Knight (96187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501909)


I just read the link
That is just unbelievably disgusting.

Please someone tell me that #1 is completely fictional.

Backfire is so sweet! (3, Informative)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501605)

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.

Or you could do what I do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501663)

... and share your name with a celebrity.

Works every time. If I type my name into google, I have to go down between five and ten pages before I get to anything related to *me*.

Hardly New (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502403)

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 for new stuff that could be investigated by the company. They also did a pretty smart job of cross-referencing and presented me with a thick pile of paper outlining all my internet activities over the previous 6 months, what I'd posted, where, when etc.
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