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Defending your reputation - by altering the past


Cap'n Refsmmat
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I was wandering around the Internets and I came across something funny - a company called ReputationDefender. They claim to defend you against "unfair, revealing and hurtful" things on the Internet by getting them removed - their site aptly says "Next, we DESTROY" the content.

 

Frankly I think it's all a bit dumb. Apparently, their method of choice to "destroy" content is to send emails to the owner of the site (one guy's experience). Obviously a lot of site owners are complying with the demands, or ReputationDefender wouldn't be in business.

 

But seriously, though: ReputationDefender claims that it will help you get jobs or get in to colleges because they won't know these "hurtful" things about you. But they don't just say they'll get rid of slander or libel - they'll get rid of "unwelcome" content. In other words, they'll try to get rid of anything you find inconvenient or damaging, whether it happens to be true or not.

 

Personally, I think that it's rather dishonest to help your own reputation by altering content on the Internet. If it's not slander or libel, it's legal, and I see no problem with your future employer finding it. All you're doing is hiding the past from them.

 

Now, I suppose if you were the person who got something bad about you on the Internet, you'd disagree. But is it really ethical to hide your past doings from your future employers?

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No, but people don't act ethically if it suits them to avoid it. I imagine that is why we have legislation.

 

I would not worry about this company. The kind of person who is fool enough to use their services is usually going to be the kind of person who only has trash talk posted about them on web sites in the first place because of their own ignorance or stupidity (I think you can guess what I mean), so they will only go and get themselves fired eventually anyway and this "past destruction" will make no difference.

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Having looked at their web site, I actually do have some concerns.

 

I don't know if you have anything in the USA that is similar to the Data Protection Act, but if those guys are operating in such a way as to perform their "services" on servers in the UK, then I cannot imagine they are doing so lawfully.

 

[edit] also, it sounds like a great company to work for if you are a paedophile or serial killer.

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I like this quote from the site: "Our clients are usually surprised at what we find." Let me guess, you have to fill out a questionnaire with lots of personal information on it, right? "Mr Smith, we found 147 slanderous things about you on the Web." Probably only 12 of them were there before you called RepDef.

also, it sounds like a great company to work for if you are a paedophile or serial killer.
Better than Disney?!
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Everything depends on the methods they use. There's nothing wrong with sending emails (even if it is kind of dishonest). Any method they use that would actually be effective, however, is probably illegal.

 

It's not a "free speech" issue, though. The government has nothing to do with it.

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It's not a "free speech" issue, though. The government has nothing to do with it.

kk but still nobody has the authority to stop someone saying what they want (as long as it's within the law)

 

Plus I couldn't find any stuff on how they actually 'destroy' the info. They probably go quite a bit further than email? hmm...not sure what they'd do. Don't enough about hacking to guess if they'd do that.

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I don't know if you have anything in the USA that is similar to the Data Protection Act, but if those guys are operating in such a way as to perform their "services" on servers in the UK, then I cannot imagine they are doing so lawfully.

 

how would they be breaching the dpa?

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how would they be breaching the dpa?

It's this bit that makes me wonder about their methods:

Our trained and expert online reputation advocates use an array of proprietary techniques developed in-house to correct and/or completely remove the selected unwanted content from the web. This is an arduous and labor-intensive task...

 

The only way they can do this lawfully is with the child's co-operation (and hence login details), unless they acquire access details by filing an SAR, which they have no legal right to do.

 

In the case where they are attempting to change content that was not written by the child of the client, they are so far off the map in terms of rights of access it is just funny.

 

I am guessing that "proprietary techniques" means typing in a very particular way, or something. Perhaps while hopping and balancing a pretzel on their nose.

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hehe.

 

i assumed that 'proprietry techniques' meant 'asking', which is why i didn't see any potential dpa breach. if they're just asking for removal of publically viewable info, then it's not illegal, is it?

 

----

 

somewhat off topic, but theres a related and perfectly valid niche related to this i think. if you know the right google search, it's disturbing how many people have had their personal details put on line by either themselves in a moment of stupidity, or a crappy company that they applied for (i just spent 5 minutes and found one -- name, address, phone, social security number, the works).

 

in that case, i could see the benifit of a company that, say, knows that you'll have to ask the internet archive to delete their copy, etc.

 

so, removing personal details would be groovy. i guess this isn't really the same, tho.

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hehe.

 

i assumed that 'proprietry techniques' meant 'asking', which is why i didn't see any potential dpa breach. if they're just asking for removal of publically viewable info, then it's not illegal, is it?

No.

 

But then, who is going to devote staff, time, and computer resources to changing their members' information because a third party "asked" them to?

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