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Online Reputation Management To Keep Your Nose Clean?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the if-you-don't-want-it-printed-don't-do-it dept.

The Internet 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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125 comments

Anonymous Coward (5, Funny)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264066)

I half expect this article to be posted by an 'Anonymous Coward'.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264240)

This definitely isn't going to work- see Streisand effect [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264618)

Easy solution which will work - change your name to John Smith.

My real name is almost that common. Good luck trying to find any signal amongst the massive amount of noise a search generates.

Re:Anonymous Coward (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264740)

I never thought my name was all that common, but apparently Google things I'm a Mathematician, Associate Professor at two Universities on two different continents, and a former Canadian member of Parliament, so I've either led a much richer life than I thought or my name is more common than I realized.

Of course, I guess I could find it mildly troubling that even after almost 20 years online, it's still difficult to find me by name on a Google search. Sex offender registries maybe, but then...I've said too much.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264892)

And my real and relatively unusual name has been used by several anarchist groups. The Wiki page for the name is now one of the highest results, so I don't need to worry any more (a couple of years ago I wondered if it would ever be a problem when the top results were 'legalise cannabis' etc).

Re:Anonymous Coward (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264388)

For most all of my 'internet life'...starting back about '93-'94 or so, I pretty much always used pseudonyms, and rarely if ever gave out personal information.

I think most people back then did pretty much the same. It just seems common sense doesn't it? When did people start really acting stupid AND not only documenting it and publishing it for eternity? Do people not have the common sense to know that actions can follow you over time?

I mean, sure, I know there are pictures and all back when I partied my ass off....and passed out here or there, etc. But, I doubt they're ever gonna surface unless I run for Senator or something. But, even so, I knew better than to broadcast that stuff back then. It all makes for great drinking stories, and all, but, c'mon, don't people have some idea that they will try to have a future out there?

Hell, I've had to learn that I have to actually tone down my stories of old escapades depending on company. When at work at times in the past, when hanging with the guys, shooting the shit...each telling stories and trying to kinda of top the other....I noticed that my idea of normal partying was WAY more than most of them. I learned then not to really tell new people about the old exploits...at least not at work.

I basically have fun rehashing them with old friends I did them with....but, shy of that, in this world, well, it is more and more important to not be seen!! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264520)

I dunno. Back when I started, there were "more professional types" that always
went by what they represented was their real name. Infact, these types tended
to look down on the rest of us that weren't buying into that idea.

Sounds like we psuedononymous types had the last laugh.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264792)

That's kind of the problem. Because the internet has evolved into not only a personal but also commercial tool there's more pressure to at the very least pick reasonable pseudonyms. Like it or not, if your resume lists your e-mail as HotPartyChick69@aol.com it's going to color the reviewers interpretation of your resume as well as lead them to make assumptions about you. At the company I work for all our e-mail addresses are of the form firstname.lastname@companyname.com which can also make it easier to track postings.

Of course I think this article is talking more about the sorts of things you see on things like Wikipedia involving celebrities, or sites like MySpace who's primary function is to eliminate your privacy (that whole social thing in social networking). In the first case, you're probably protected in part by Wikipedias standards concerning sources, but also in part by laws against libel. In the second case you don't really have much recourse, as by joining sites like that and providing information about yourself you're explicitly waiving your rights to privacy.

Really I think this whole thing is stupid and about on par with a company that would offer to "protect" the "reputation" of high school students (the most likely to be doing things they'll regret documenting on MySpace anyway). It's ultimately a futile exercise, and you'd be much better off not publishing the information in the first place and/or going after people for committing libel (assuming it's a lie, if you really did it, well, you're screwed).

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

Dada Vinci (1222822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264938)

But what about people who get dragged into the spotlight through no fault of their own? The Washington Post article [washingtonpost.com] about some of the same events describes some pretty bad stuff:

The chats sometimes include photos taken from women's Facebook pages, and in the Yale student's case, one person threatened to sexually violate her. Another participant claimed to be the student, making it appear that she was taking part in the discussion.
What's important is that the victims were not participating in the forum before they had their names, photos, and alleged sexual preferences splashed all over the web. Somebody thought it'd be a good idea to have a "beauty contest" with unwilling contestants, and some of the organizers of the "contest" went over the top. Right now the law doesn't really provide a remedy for that sort of thing. It's gross that a student had her private photos splayed all over the public Internet, and that somebody else impersonated her to make her look like a bi***, but there's no way to solve the problem right now. Telling people to grow thicker skin doesn't help when people are threatening to stalk and rape out of the blue.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265074)

Two things. First, if some random person on the internet had access to them, they obviously weren't private photos. Second, if someone is posting lies about a person in a public forum that can damage their reputation, particularly if their claiming to be that person, and it's obviously not a case of satire, then they can be sued for Libel and possibly other things. 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.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Interesting)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265442)

Sounds like it's an issue with a loophole in CDA 230. After reading it over I notice CDA 230 has exemptions for federal crimes, and copyright infringement. Sounds like the problem could be solved by adding another exemption for Libel such that the ISP must take down libelous statements when ordered to do so by the court otherwise their held responsible for them, much the same as the other exceptions.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265724)

Sounds like it's an issue with a loophole in CDA 230. After reading it over I notice CDA 230 has exemptions for federal crimes, and copyright infringement. Sounds like the problem could be solved by adding another exemption for Libel such that the ISP must take down libelous statements when ordered to do so by the court otherwise their held responsible for them, much the same as the other exceptions.
The trouble with that is that at the moment genuine whistleblowers have some potential protection from identification. Take it away and bullies will find it all the easier to silence criticism -- all they have to do is call the accusations libel then they can go after the whistleblower with their own threats of violence. I've been in that position -- my wife was blowing the whistle on malpractice in a geriatric care home, and we got threats of violence against our (then) infant children (on police advice she shut up and left the job). You might say that to get the court to order the release of the information the complainant would have to demonstrate a strong case for libel, but without the whistleblower there to put their side of the case and to actually show evidence that could be all too easy. Anonymity is important, and it's when libel accusations start flying around that the interests of both sides need to be very carefully weighed.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Dada Vinci (1222822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265754)

Seems like there's a pretty big difference between whistle-blowing and threatening to rape somebody.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266082)

There certainly is. But since when has threatening to rape somebody been libel?

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265236)

"That's kind of the problem. Because the internet has evolved into not only a personal but also commercial tool there's more pressure to at the very least pick reasonable pseudonyms. Like it or not, if your resume lists your e-mail as HotPartyChick69@aol.com it's going to color the reviewers interpretation of your resume as well as lead them to make assumptions about you. At the company I work for all our e-mail addresses are of the form firstname.lastname@companyname.com which can also make it easier to track postings."

Well, there are times and places for each, right?

If you're posting something with a political slant, surely you wouldn't want to use your company email address would you? Just use common sense.

There are ways to post anonymously too...set up a nym account to post through remailers to USENET if you want to really remain anon....

And lastly, I'd recommend NOT being an exhibitionist with a Facebook or Myspace page, unless you want all those party pics of you hogging the skull bong while you have toe sex with a couple of people to come back and haunt you later in life.

It's not your myspace, it's your friends (2, Interesting)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's not your myspace, it's your friends (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265738)

"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."

I guess sadly, these days, more than in mine, it is best to try to choose your "friends" more wisely, and also, you have to be more careful who you're around when you cut loose and get a little wild. No, in my day, you didn't have to worry about cameras everywhere...the cellphone type makes it dangerous to do anything these days....but, people still brought film cameras to parties. I still have tons of those pics in albums. But, in light of todays easy click-shoot-publish, I guess you have to be more careful about when and where you let your hair down so to speak.

It is sad in that respect, and I know from being a kid, things like that aren't the primary thing you keep in mind most of the time (if at all).

I guess these days, it is best if you learn a lesson that we used to get later in life...you have to be suspicious and wary of most people...at least till you get to know them for awhile. Be careful who you do things around.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265466)

Yeah, that's pretty much my opinion on it.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264660)

I can relate to everything you said, and totally agree with you. I've used a pseudonymn for years, the same one mind. More recently, I've been less interested in complete anonymity. It's not that hard to find out who I am in meatspace on the net, but the information turned up would be fairly useless. I've googled my full name in a variety of combinations, but can't really find anything specific, and that even would implicate me in anything good or bad. Except maybe one thing.

I don't have an extremely common name, not anything outrageous though. I googled it along with the town I live, and found there's another town with the same name with someone who shares my first+last names! They work in real estate apparently :( Thankfully, I'm in England and they're in Australia so I can explain that blemish on the google results for my name.

Other than that, I don't publish my address, birthday, bank details, embarassing photos etc... I don't belong to any facebook or myspace type things, so even linking me with people I know would be tricky.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

baboonlogic (989195) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264662)

For most all of my 'internet life'...starting back about '93-'94 or so, I pretty much always used pseudonyms, and rarely if ever gave out personal information.

Same here but since blogs became popular and I got mentioned once or twice here and there I decided that if it's gonna be the first result with my name on google it might as well be something better. So, now I do post a lot of stuff with my own name in it.

Disclaimer: My company has asked me to research the ORM market. I might be biased.

In fact, I am beginning to think that this stuff is a much better response than litigation a lot of time and given the nature of the web, litigation is a lot of times impossible. (Say someone halfway down the globe is running a smear campaign against you.) And the first page results for your name can affect your life in a very real way.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Dada Vinci (1222822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265610)

Say someone halfway down the globe is running a smear campaign against you
Seems like there's a bigger problem that we're letting people halfway around the globe get away with that. In the US there are laws against libel and slander (and I think there are stronger laws in the EU and particularly the UK). But they're near-impossible to enforce online because people can hide behind (in the US) a law (communciations decency act) that makes websites not responsible for what they publish. Even if the websites know they're doing bad, they're not repsonsible.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264726)

publishing it for eternity?

That's an internet myth. There was a British fellow named Niel Harriot (although his real name may have been Janet) who ran a site called Yello There, a parody of Blue's News. I ran a site called the Springfield Fragfest, and we were fans of each others' sites (I found out after posting something silly about his site).

He suffered from a terminal disease and I lost track of him, I don't think (s?)he breathes any more. The only reference I can find of Niel or his site is one page of it, in archive.org's "wayback machine", and that's one I posted at my site. Not all of it is there, either; I couldn't find the post where I had Nacho's pet shambler pissing on the carpet.

I wish I'd archived his stuff, it was hilarious. Especially one where he had my grandmother living under his crawlspace... the old Quake crowd was a lot wilder than even my Paxil Diaries or slashdot whore journals.

But stuff on the internet does disappear, especially the stuff you don't want to disappear.

don't people have some idea that they will try to have a future out there?

I have no future, I retire soon, I really don't care what anybody thinks at this point.

-mcgrew

The last two journals aren't my normal reefer, drink, and whore journals, sorry.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264796)

Sure, but using pseudonyms for so long can have it's drawbacks, such as not ever being recognized for work you may have done in the past online under a different name than the one you use today. Luckily for me, virtually everything I've ever done online has been nothing but a colossal waste of time, so this doesn't impact me, but others may not be so lucky.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265270)

Do people not have the common sense to know that actions can follow you over time?

There's two cases where people just don't care. One is more common among the high school - college age and that's when you're living for the moment. It's one of the more common follies of youth, though it's not uncommon to see it among those experiencing a midlife crisis.

The other case is more common by older types and is an attitude that arises out of unchecked ambition, where the goals are perceived by the individual to be more urgent and more important than thinking about the consequences. The best known example of this thinking is President Bush's answer to Bob Woodward when asked "how is history likely to judge your Iraq war?" and he answered "History, we don't know. We'll all be dead." This is the folly of unchecked(by reality) ambition.

What sucks in my opinion is, society has become so brutal and unforgiving for young people and this thing where the follies of your youth potentially captured by some asshat with a camera phone can now follow you for life is just one more example. My grandfather(RIP) shared with me some of the things he did back in the depression era, and had there be an internet and digital photography, maybe he would have been plagued by those things professionally?

I'd hate to be college aged during this current era with cameras everywhere. I did some things that, while not overtly evil, would definetly cause more conservative interviewers grave reservations about me. OTOH, I don't have a single friend who can't say the same thing. So maybe the answer is society needs to lighten the fuck up and let the old fronts and phoney public images of the past die. Generations before us worked hard to keep up phoney public appearances of a normality that never was "normal" or even realistic.

Same here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22265462)

I figured out that I didn't want to use my real name online any more the first time some gay guy invited me into a "private" chat. No offense, but that's just not my thing. I've only used my real name for a few things since then, the rest anonymously or under pseudonyms (which I also keep disconnected from each other and myself).

Given that you can't get privacy back once you've lost it, I kinda figured it was obvious to preserve it. You can always surrender it later, if need be, but there's no undo button. Make an ass out of yourself online and, well, that's just tough.

Pseudonyms weren't always available (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265726)

For most all of my 'internet life'...starting back about '93-'94 or so, I pretty much always used pseudonyms, and rarely if ever gave out personal information.

I think most people back then did pretty much the same. It just seems common sense doesn't it? When did people start really acting stupid AND not only documenting it and publishing it for eternity? Do people not have the common sense to know that actions can follow you over time?

Back when I joined the Internet ('87), access was controlled by school, government, and company sysadmins, most of whom mandated strict guidelines [demon.co.uk] regarding your online ID [google.com] . So your username or email address was typically your real name. People wouldn't respect you if you didn't use your real name, figuring you were trying to hide something. It wasn't considered a big deal because there was no Google Groups (Usenet archive) nor a Wayback Machine [archive.org] . Stuff you put on the 'net (Usenet really) was fleeting and transitory.

This started to change when people started putting personal servers on the 'net, and completely died when AOL (where you get to pick your own email name) joined Usenet in 1994. After that, your online name was pretty much anything you wanted it to be.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264890)

Does anyone have a link to Slashdot User Database... I need to put in a Few requests.

It will really backfire... (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264082)

if you don't pay these guys on time.

Not for everyone (4, Funny)

Saib0t (204692) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264130)

I can imagine this:
Customer: Hi, I'd like a clean online reputation, can you do that?
Company: Sure, just a couple of clicks, 100 bucks and you're clean... What's your name?
Customer: Kevin Mitnick.
Company: ...
Company: ...
Company: -_-'

Re:Not for everyone (2, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264584)

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:Not for everyone (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265026)

Great ideas (especially the part about hiring you). It sounds like some of these problems come up when the online and offline identities are connected through malice of a third-party. I agree that nobody cares if I attack "KublaiKhan" -- it's a little silly. But if I figured out your real-life identity and posted "John Smith is KublaiKhan, he lives at 123 Main Street, he works at AcmeCo, drives a blue Honda, and here's his home phone number. Follow him around and harass him for his views on {abortion/iraq/elections/copyright...}" then you have a differnet problem. All of the positive karma associated with KublaiKhan can't help you.

Re:Not for everyone (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265154)

Thus why I use KublaiKhan here--it's comparatively difficult to trace the name KublaiKhan, being as it's reasonably popular as a pseudonym and it happens to be the name of a historical figure.

I've another handle elsewhere, however, that is unique to me and can be traced back to my real identity--but I'm aware of that, and am generally mindful of what I post under that name.

Of course, if you know my real name, you can generally figure out a handful of my less-obfuscated pseudonyms--not all of them, though, as I also have a small handful of truly anonymous pseudonyms roaming around the 'net.

It's all about risk assessment, really. ;-p The more risky the location that you're posting, the more generic, obfuscated, and removed from one's real identity your handle should be.

Re:Not for everyone (1)

Dada Vinci (1222822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264838)

Probably not for the Mitniks nor the Scientologists of the world either.

But what about the people who are falsely accused [wired.com] of being Scientologists? That guy has had his name, address, phone and SSN splashed all over the web, through no fault of his own. Seems like he could use some reputation management to clean up all of that info. Or, if it can't be cleaned-up, then to bury it in positive Google-karma.

Don't even bother reading (2, Informative)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264150)

the "article" It's a fucking paragraph, and 5 of the 6 links it has are back to itself. What a crock

Re:Don't even bother reading (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264768)

Where are mod points when I need them? The parent was informative. Now THIS comment is offtopic.

Modding myself down by leaving the "no karma bonus" box checked

Non-crappy-blog link (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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 Google search results as possible.

"People are increasingly basing their first impression on what they see on the Internet, but few go beyond the first five results on Google," said Kader.

Someone who could use some digital botox is 34-year-old Michael, whose tale is recounted in "The Future of Reputation: gossip, rumor and privacy on the Internet," by George Washington University law professor, Daniel Solove.

Michael did a stint in prison as a teen and wrote articles about it, Solove writes.

"These articles now come back to haunt him... pulled up anytime somebody does a Google search for his name.

"In one instance, Michael was interviewed several times for a job when, suddenly, the potential employer stopped calling him. His hunch: someone googled him."

Re:Non-crappy-blog link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264536)

"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,"
Anonymous:
None of us are as cruel as all of us

Stupid is as Stupid does (4, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264222)

Am I really unusual in understanding that there are some things that one does not broadcast to the World? Am I alone is understanding that you don't post pictures of yourself drunk with transvestites [community-media.com] on Facebook? Am I alone in understanding that you don't film youself in illegal acts and then stick it on YouTube?

Honestly, I don't care what someone does in their private life, but if they don't understand the line between private and public I probably don't want them working for me. Really people, is it that hard to use a pseudonym and a hotmail address?

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264502)

You realize of course that it's not just individuals who post potentially embarrassing information about themseleves to the web, but other people like friends, relatives, or even complete strangers that do it without the individual's consent. How do you control that, other than taking up residence in your parents basement and never going out into the daylight? Not everyone wants to be a slashdot reader, you know.

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264616)

Moderate your drinking. Moderate your drug use. Be selective in the company you keep. If you can't keep your pants on after two beers then maybe you should stay home.

Potential employers want to know that you can exercize good judgement.

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265082)

Potential employers want to know that you can exercize good judgement.

But what about things that aren't good or bad judgment, but just controversial. If I worked for a very conservative company, they might be concerned if they saw my pictures at the next Pride Parade in Greenwich Village. It's perfectly "good judgment" to support gay rights (I think it's even a duty), but I want to keep my private life separate from my work life. I'm careful to not post photos of myself attached to my real name, but I can't control other people.

What if Westboro Baptist went to the Pride Parade and posted photos of every indidvidual along with identifying information? My boss would definitely find out unless I took affirmative steps. Or what if they just went to a gay bar and took photos of people -- it'd be easy enough to get my name if you're good enough looking. There's just a problem when somebody is out to get you.

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22265102)

I had no idea that Puritan's posted on /.

Listen, the only thing my employer should concern himself with is whether I can do the fucking job that I'm being paid to do. Other than that, he can damn well stick his moralistic, self-righteous attitude up his fat, prodigious ass. Do you hear me, Jason? (My boss reads /., too. :)

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

Aram Fingal (576822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264532)

What if it wasn't you that posted the pictures of Facebook (or wherever). What if you didn't even know that anyone had a camera at that party with the drunk transvestites and then pictures of you show up on someone else's page somewhere.

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264670)

Simple...
Don't embarrass yourself in public.
I was at a talk that a Pro Football player was giving to some kids about making good choices. BTW this guy wasn't doing court ordered community service and never has.
He told the kids that the teams have a bunch of experts that try and help the player not do stupid things. This expert was a gun expert. He listed all the times where it would be a bad time to carry your gun. One of the players asked, "Whe is a good time to carry your gun?" The expert said, "If you are going into any situation where having a gun is a good idea not going into that situation to start with is a better idea."

So if you don't want pictures of you at a party with drunk transvestites then don't go to a party with drunk transvestites.
Even a "private" party is a public place.

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264854)

The expert said, "If you are going into any situation where having a gun is a good idea not going into that situation to start with is a better idea."

I wonder if I can use that excuse to avoid deploying with my Guard unit to the sandbox next rotation?

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266526)

Awe, everyone wants to be at one of those parties though! Certainly not with that transvestite however...

*shudders*

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264676)

Very good point.

The other side of the coin is even here on slashdot.

At the bottom of the page it says:
"All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2008 SourceForge, Inc."

The part about "Comments are owned by the Poster." is interesting since if the poster later wants the comment removed it puts forums in a difficult place. Either they remove it, at the request of the owner since they own it or if they refuse then they take responsibility for showing all the other posts as well. There's a reason that forums put that there. This wouldn't apply to others posting about you but if you had some dumbass comments that you would rather be forgotten, this company could put some pressure on the forums in this manner.

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

AndyG314 (760442) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264634)

The people who post bad pictures of themselves really don't need someone to clean up their internet reputation, all they have to do is remove the material. The problem comes in when:
1) Someone else posts the material of you on their website where people can find it (your buddy posts a video on youtube, entitled [your_name] drunk with transvestites )
2) Someone else with your name posts material about themselves, but people confuse him with you.
There can be legitimate problems with this sort of thing.

Re:Stupid is as Stupid does (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264674)

What do you do if someone anonymous posts made-up stories and/or photoshopped images about you? Or one of your "buddies" gets you good and sloshed & videotapes everything? Or another stupid celebrity gets a "private" sex tape stolen out of their home?

(I think these firms are a train wreck waiting to happen, but I think your response simplifies the problem too much.)

"Young People" (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265006)

"Young People" don't always have the common sense to keep things off-line that "Older Folks" might think twice about. And, young people are more likely to express opinions that while admirable, might not work well in corporate America.

For example, a young idealistic student might post a comment at a site like NoJailForPot.com [nojailforpot.com] , and later think twice about it when applying for work after college at, say, a government agency or perhaps an investment house...

What is wrong with that picture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22266038)

I may not like George Bush or Neil Bush, but what is wrong with that picture?

I assume in your world you're constantly afraid of going to parties, or enjoying yourself because heaven forfend someone take a picture of that and post it out of context.

Re:What is wrong with that picture? (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266516)

Nothing specifically wrong with that picture (or with transvestites, drunk or sober) except that the kid is family to the President of the friggin' United States! Some would argue that that requires a higher standard of behaviour from the kid, because of either political or national security risks. If your uncle is President you should be bright enough to understand that your behaviour can do him damage, or someone older and wiser should have drummed that understanding into your head.

In the real world actions have consquences, and for ol' Neil those consequences could be pretty far reaching.

Yeah, but I'd like to erase my own idiot-ness (2, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264238)

I was an idiot 15 years ago:
http://groups.google.ca/group/comp.protocols.nfs/browse_thread/thread/76662c9239a05257 [google.ca]
Who can I talk to in order to erase the fact that I wanted to connect MSDOS and UNIX somehow.
Imagine! Wanting to connect two different operating systems together over Ethernet... how silly.

Re:Yeah, but I'd like to erase my own idiot-ness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264456)

Perhaps a bigger mistake is creating a link between your name and your Slashdot user ID

Re:Yeah, but I'd like to erase my own idiot-ness (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264492)

Perhaps a bigger mistake is creating a link between your name and your Slashdot user ID
Yeah, you're right... nobody would ever guess that "thomasdz" or "thomas dzubin" might be the same person.
My bad.

i hope sometime in the past 15 yrs (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264642)

You have discovered Cygwin.

Re:i hope sometime in the past 15 yrs (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264888)

Yes. and SIMH too

Shitcock, baby! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264272)

Let's see your reputation management fix this!

Shitty, shitty, shitty cooock!
Oh, shitcock!

Shitty, shitty, shitty cooock!
Oh, shitcock's the game!

The bigger the audience, the bigger the shitcock!

Doesn't look too bad... (5, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264294)

At least, I couldn't find anything negative about them posted anywhere...

Does having a common name help protect privacy? (5, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264308)

I was using the stalker site veromi.net the other day and came to a realization: now with search engines being ubiqutous, people with really common names seem to enjoy a better shield against employers googling information than those who have uncommon names. For example, there are probably a lot more "Tim Smiths" out there than there are "Mustafa Wenzel"s. Tim Smith is probably harder to find online, and if he did anything stupid as a teen(got caught shoplifting or whatever), the employer would have a much harder time finding it.

Then again, if you google my name, esp. my full name, without quotes, most of the results are porn..... I just happen to have the same last name as the stage name of a famous porn actress who frequently appears with a man whose stage first and last name is the same as my first and middle name respectively.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264474)

Thus, the advice would seem to be to either change your name to a common one, or use a nondescript pseudonym for all your online identifications.

Or, of course, to have common sense about what's connected with your name....but most people don't seem to understand how easily things can be 'connected'.

LOL, so you mean... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264498)

You can go to HR, and say "sure, Google me, but be warned, you will be violating company Internet usage rules if you look at the results." :-)

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264538)

Agreed. I have 3 first names and a google search on me gets you squat. Searching on your email address or user name (if you use the same on multiple places) is something to worry about. I do alot of back tracking on our service users for use violations and the email address is golden.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264724)

Which is why it's handy to have a common username--it may be frustrating to try to find the same one on every forum, but on the flip side, it's hard to track you.

One of my usernames happens to be (as far as I can tell) unique since about the turn of the century, when I came up with it--only things posted by me or quoting me will show up.

This username, though, is surprisingly common, and there's only a handful of places where it's actually me--many of 'em fairly far down in the google search results. As a bonus, it's the name of a historical figure on whom many books have been written--so tracking me through this username would be a great deal more difficult.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266028)

Yes, I use this ID for most things and places that won't take the underscore always piss me off. I decided not to sign up for StumbleOn because of it.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264896)

Same here - googling for my normal name will get you a ton of results, most of them a continent away from me. I appear around page six or so.

Googling with my full name in quotes will yield me - sadly most of the results will be flamewars from usenet-archiving websites, compounded with helpful and polite participation in tomcat support mailing lists. People googling me will think I'm a jekyll/hyde schizo :)

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264760)

Let me guess? Ron Jeremy Jameson?

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

artificial_grey (907745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264840)

John Holmes Seka? Man, I think I went to high school with you. Haha - just kidding, but that is a rather amusing coincidence.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264940)

Ron Jeremy Jameson, is that you?

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265192)

This could lead to discrimination cases since whitebread names are more common than ethnic names for the most part. So all the better :) IMO, businesses shouldn't google potential employees because it is such a red herring to see what someone does outside of work. So he doesn't speak in complete sentences, wear a suit and act superpolite when he's not being interviewed. So what? Everyone is going to try and make a good impression and everyone is going to not be in interview mode their whole life. By not hiring them because they look like they have fun outside work, they may turning down their next amazing employee because they are focusing on something completely unrelated.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265906)

businesses shouldn't google potential employees because it is such a red herring to see what someone does outside of work. So he doesn't speak in complete sentences, wear a suit and act superpolite when he's not being interviewed. So what? Everyone is going to try and make a good impression and everyone is going to not be in interview mode their whole life.
I would disagree. We hired a girl for our department (I can hear here spouting stupid right now) and she interviewed very well. I wish I had searched for her on Google so I could have seen how batshit insane she is. She kept it quiet until the probation period was over.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (1)

krondell (1147917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265492)

In a word, no. I worked on an anti-fraud reputation system for a large poker site. The system I worked on didn't rely on your name or any other personal information. It works on the permise that while it is easy to make new accounts, it's difficult to change your hardware. And it's your hardware's reputation/history with the associated accounts that is aggragated into a huge db. When suspicious activies occur - charge backs on stolen credit cards mostly - that "evidence" is entered into the db. Analysts can iterate through the db and build a web of associated accounts and hardware and if there is a pattern of abuse, the entire collection of accounts and computers can be flagged. That evidence is then shared on the back-end with other subscribers to the reputation system, so if site A and B are both subscribers, and you defraud A and get shut down, when you attempt to move on to site B, B already knows what you've been upto. Depending on their filtering rules, you may not even be able to connect to site B. The system was extremely successful, saved the startup I was working for, and was spun off as its own product which is now being used by most of the large poker sites.

Re:Does having a common name help protect privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22266162)

Your full name is Peter North Jameson?

John Holmes Seka?

Ron Jeremy [last name of any woman who has ever appeared in a pornographic film]?

How to Manage Your Reputation in One Easy Step: (2, Funny)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264412)

Stay the hell away from tequila.

Re:How to Manage Your Reputation in One Easy Step: (1)

baboonlogic (989195) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264500)

Right! And don't ever be friends with people who have tequila and blog!

Full Disclosure: My company is considering the ORM market and I have been asked to look into it.

Mod me redundant (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264450)

Because I've said it many times before here at slashdot, if you Google somebody and Google says they're a terrorist child molesting copyright infringer, you're setting yourself up for a slander/lible suit.

Anyone who's ever managed a database of any size at all knows that a name is an incredibly bad identifier. Especially a name like scuttlemonkey or FuzzyDaddy. There were six people on the internet in 1997 with my name, one of whom is a semi-famous comedian who's been on Comedy central.

I'm not him. Im not the Canadian guy, either. This subject has been brought up at slashdot before, and I challenged people to identify me. Every time, some poor sod in Canada gets his home phone number and address posted at slashdot! And that after the Paxil Diaries, where my city was posted.

Of course, now with the whoremonger journals you would probably guess me, but I'm the exception. You're going to google for John Connor and find out that he's "terminator3000"? Not very damned likely.

You think you're going to find DelRoy Johnson in Chicago? Yeah you'll find him, all thousand of him.

Oh, and if by chance I get fired before I can retire and look for work, I'm a fine upstanding law abiding citizen who doesn't hire whores or smoke pot and my journals are all fiction ;)

-anonymous coward

(ok not really, you know who I am)

Yes but.. (1)

ironwill96 (736883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264472)

Can Jack Thompson really afford their services? I wonder how much it costs to fix a reputation that is currently sitting somewhere near negative infinity?

Re:Yes but.. (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265266)

One BILLION dollars. Wha ha ha!

Extortion works (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264576)

We now have questionable social "networking" sites where your past dating partners can rate you. We have an eternal archive of everything anyone ever posted about you on the Internet.

"Oh I never use my real name on the Internet" goes only so far - these aren't things you are posting about yourself, these are things other people are saying about you. Can they be connected to you? Depends on how detailed the person commenting on you wants to be.

Are we ready for having our children 15 years from now ask why you were so mean to people before?

So of course we have companies offering the chance to wipe the slate clean. A fresh start. For only a few dollars. After all, what is money compared to this.

This could actually get out of hand if people paid any attention at all to the Internet. Fortunately, most people don't.

Re:Extortion works (1)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265100)

Past dating partners? You're on Slashdot, dude. Computerized entities don't use dating sites.

Uh, what if you are a Slashdot Troll? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264626)

I've been trolling on slashdot and usenet for quite a few years, and, um, what do I do if potential employees discover, by searching, that yeah, I really am something of a pompous jerk? Is there somebody I can pay to make them think I'm nice... like, if I put a bunch of flowers and stuff on my home page, and say that I love you all and cry a lot, would that help? Or do I just have to suck it?

Moral of the story is, at some point, what you do on the internet is really yourself, or at least a piece of it, and there's going to be a phase where you have to reconcile who you want to be with who you really are. If you don't like what you write, then, maybe you need to change yourself, not what other people think of you.

I love you all, even you stupid liberals. Does that help? :-)

Re:Uh, what if you are a Slashdot Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264844)

The world has changed since the days of the beehive terminals, Gandalf modems, terminal servers, and pipes so skinny that it was faster to swap porn by snail mail 9-track tape. These days a significant number of overly literal humorless overlord wannabes are on line. "Ooo Ooo boss, it says here on this data cassette that the job applicant made an ethnic joke on ARPANET back in 1975."

Joke 'em if they can't take a fuck.

Re:Uh, what if you are a Slashdot Troll? (1)

The Queen (56621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264908)

what you do on the internet is really yourself

This is the divide we are seeing in the generations of users now - back in my day, I had pseudonyms and multiple e-mail addresses, you bet. I did a lot of racy stuff that I never wanted a potential boss to find out about. Now though, as a symptom (or result) of the last ten years of reality TV, no one seems to have anything to hide - until they get in trouble for it.

You used to be able to troll anonymously and spew hate on message boards and get away with it. The facelessness of the Internet guaranteed safety. Not so much anymore. The days when you could have an alter-ego online that had nothing to do with you IRL are gone. (I would argue that 'online' and 'IRL' are no longer mutually exclusive realms...)

As you said, even if you sit behind a screen name that's hard to trace, it's still you. If you troll, you're a troll. "Would you kiss your momma with that mouth?"

OR you could do it the easy way (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264728)

1. Be thoughtful before posting information/pictures/videos on the Internet.
2. Try not to be a Dick even when you disagree with someone.
3. Get your own presence on the web.
4. Use Google Alerts.
If you don't want someone to see it, don't post it, is it that hard?

I blame alcohol. Go ahead Google me. Have at it.

Re:OR you could do it the easy way (1)

Dada Vinci (1222822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265440)

What about people who are jealous of you, or just hate you for no reason, and post your real name, real photos, and slanderous lies about you without your permission? There are laws saying the webhost isn't responsible, and it's impossible to track down anonymous cowards.

Not a problem for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22264808)

In a way I feel fortunate that my name is identical to that of a famous person. I even live in the same city and state. As a result, anyone googling me has to wade through 10,000 hits for some other guy. I don't really need such a service.

How about just stop being a douchebag all the time (1)

nuclearwessels (968367) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264810)

Remember in Kindergarten when we were taught not to be a tattletale....sticks and stones, people, my God.

Oh snap (1)

TurinPT (1226568) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264820)

I made fun of some paranoid lady who thinks everyone is out to get her and now she lists me as a possible child molestor.
I love google.

Use a Pseudonym (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264832)

Easy: I rarely do stuff with my real name on the Internet.
(Hint: my name isn't corsec67)

If I don't want someone to find out the name I go by for most of my online stuff, I just don't give them my username.

Doing a google search for my real name comes up with my thesis and a patent, both of which are me, and not a whole lot else.

This service brought to you by... (1)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22264904)

...the mafia!

Clean nose? (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265072)

You can pick your friends...

Yeah...I know I'm setting myself up for an attack! (1)

Flash0424 (1231554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265198)

I just read another article discussing the finer points of Internet life. How we've broken down our psyche into different 'avatars' and how FaceBook and other are bringing this home to roost. (I'm paraphrasing here, and I wish I could remember where the article came from...MSN maybe?)... Anyway, I digress... The problem I see with these types of sites is that they can accumulate all of this data, in the name of getting it offline for you, but where does it go? One of the steps (and here comes the attackable material) that a dictatorship needs is control of the people...If they have dirt on you, they can 'persuade' you to not say anything. All of these online personalities that people have gives them fodder. Once they have the ability to say (truthfully or not) that you are having an illicit affair, or you visit a 'dog sucking shoes' fetish site, they have the ability to control you. You can't get jobs, you don't qualify for loans, you don't do ANYTHING they don't allow. There are tons of historical references around, if you're willing to do the research. Of course the argument "If you don't do anything wrong, what are you worried about?" will be raised, and the answer is this: What's not wrong today may be against the law tomorrow. We as a people need to wake up and realize that our freedoms are being taken away, day by day, month by month. It's a scary thought, but I'd like to know that children today will have the same opportunities that I did, in this USA...

But will it blog? (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22265974)

Looks like one of the subjects of the article has addressed the question on its blog: Reputation Defender Blog [reputation...erblog.com] .

I'd be curious to see if AutoAdmit posts an official response.

Try Asking, Nicely (4, Interesting)

Hittman (81760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266114)

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.

An ounce of prevention (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266224)

I have an almost unique fist and last name. Almost, there's one other guy with the same name. It turns out he's a children's television director. A few years ago I started getting calls from pre-teens who wanted to wanted to be actors. This got my attention (and kind of creeped me out) so I went to investigate.

It turned out that my portfolio web site got top Google page rank, his IMDB page #2. So kids, being kids, weren't smart enough to figure out that my web site wasn't the portfolio of a TV director and contacted me through it.

Searching through Google I didn't find anything incriminating or even embarrassing about either of us, but I have some friends who haven't learned about how the words Privacy and Internet interact yet, and I don't know anything about this alter-ego except he makes a living filming children.

So I thought I'd take some precautions.

I basically Google bombed myself. I set up pages on some of my spare domains that link back to my name and portfolio as well as linking to the various articles and other popular things I've done over the years. (I made sure I didn't link anywhere that was dynamic and uncontrollable like message boards or blog posts with comments.)

Now I have a very solid (and flattering) first page of Google. It would take my involvement in a major crime or tragedy to get any unwanted results on that first page.

I also do a line of contracting under a pseudonym. (When you do programming and photography, people seem to think you can't do either properly.) The pseudonym is pretty common name that I chose after Googling a few to see what gave the best results. Working under another name is as simple as filing a DBA or FBN with the county, and letting the bank know so you can cash your checks. Yes, it's public record, but they rarely show up on Google.

But I've tried to do everything that doesn't legally require my name under one pseudonym or other. I don't need those stupid rants I posted to usenet 20 years ago to come back to haunt me. Sure, everyone does it, but we like plausible dependability.

The potential (1)

pas256 (914134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266518)

I wonder if this type of things could be used by Microsoft for Vista's reputation?

In Defense of Truth (1)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266726)

What's really scary about this isn't reputation, but the notion of having a set of legal tools for telling people they can't publish things you don't like. Reputation has been an issue for a long time, and people have informally learned to manage it. Enough of us have grown up with this that we can even teach our kids how not to make an idiot of themselves online before they're ready.

But what's escalating of late is this:

legal bullying of anyone who says something you don't like

Most any truth can be converted into a value judgment. A statement that global warming is being caused by x could be turned into a slander suit against x. And from there we could get to no information available online about x. And that means the Internet cannot do a main thing many of us rely on it to do, which is to provide us with a way of doing oversight on the world.

Omniscient search engines right now are seen as good things because they can find information. That's good when you imagine that the truth is out there and should be found. But when the purpose of finding it becomes to suppress it, the next logical stage in the evolution of information warfare will be to make the truth harder to find so that it can't easily be expunged. To pass it along secret, trusted channels so that it's not available for target practice by the rich and powerful when they feel threatened. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to that.

Look at what happened with Political Correctness. It started out like such an obviously good thing--that people shouldn't say bad things, and the world would be better. But it hasn't played out thus.

You want a business idea? Create an organization that isn't based on removing controversial information but on creating new information that vets or refutes other information. The nice thing about that is you can create more than one such source, so you can have them duke it out in the marketplace. When you have a business based on suppression, you can't have a competing business based on non-suppression. The information is either out there or it's not. Truth is often hard to prove; to assume all information is removable unless its truth can be shown without a doubt is a pretty high bar to set. There are more roads to a society that lives in fear of censorship than just an overbearing government acting by fiat.

I'm not entirely negative on the idea of removing some "information" in cases where it's hurtful or protected by privacy rules. But not everything is of that kind. Free speech and privacy have a kind of yin/yang thing going, where a balance must be struck.

Manage all info (1)

^_^x (178540) | more than 6 years ago | (#22266868)

From about 1996 onward I decided putting my picture, name, or address on the Internet was a reckless idea and stopped.
Now I manage a handful of pseudonyms and assume the net as a whole is one place when I share personal data. I try not to offer enough pieces to positively identify me within about 500km. ...but then there are those who post all their personal photos to facebook and so on, so I guess they'll learn the hard way and make an example for the rest of us - like the guy whose boss found a pic of him at a party in a fairy costume! haha...
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