by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 1st 2008 7:20am
It's been well-documented that Google has become something of the mythical permanent record teachers warned you about as kids. There are plenty of stories about people losing jobs or discovering dubious information about dates using Google. A few years back, services popped up claiming that they could scrub your online record clean -- though, how successful such services could be was certainly called into question. However, it appears that those services have morphed into a new, somewhat scary, category called online reputation management. While it's to be expected that corporations might have people monitoring online reputations, it's quite another thing to have individuals hire firms to do the same thing. 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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