In Privacy on 01/24/2013 at 00:17

Reputation.com (formerly ReputationDefender is a company based in Redwood City, California that offers online reputation management (ORM) and internet privacy services. Company CEO Michael Fertik has criticized review websites that don’t monitor comments or require users to register.

ReputationDefender started out in 2006 with a focus on helping parents protect their children from damaging their reputations through embarrassing postings on social media websites, but quickly expanded to add similar services for adults. Its services included monitoring of web content about their clients. When damaging content was found, the company tried to get it removed from the offending websites through methods such as sending letters to the site owners asking them to remove the content. In 2006, Susan Crawford, a cyberlaw specialist on the faculty of Cardozo Law School, commented that when contacted in that fashion, “most people will take materials down just to avoid the hassle of dealing with possible litigation.”

Fertik told an interviewer that the company’s methods did not work with all types of web content, noting that “some clients and prospective clients would like us to get news articles in major publications or court records removed from the internet,” but his company must “tell them that these requests are extremely difficult to fulfill and sometimes impossible.” In general, he said that the company was sensitive to First Amendment issues, and would not go after “genuinely newsworthy speech.” In a 2007 article, Business Week reported that ReputationDefender was offering businesses a “$10,000 premium service … that can promote the info you want and suppress the news you don’t,” primarily by manipulating search-engine results.

In 2012, Reputation.com received multiple patents related to its development of reputation science technologies. Some of the company’s patented software includes scoring systems used to identify consumer information and generate reputation scores for individuals. The technology outlined in other patents has centered on persona isolation, sentiment analysis, and privacy protection.

Current Reputation.com technologies include privacy related systems that locate websites where an individual’s personal data is unknowingly listed. These systems also attempt to delist the data.There is also review technology that allows businesses to track online reviews and reach out to customers in order to proactively gather reviews.

In January 2010, the company announced that it was changing its name from ReputationDefender to Reputation.com, saying that the new name communicates that the company had expanded it services “beyond the ‘defensive’ and onto the ‘proactive’ face of reputation and privacy management.” The page for ReputationDefender software advises, “High-ranking negative content can damage your reputation online. We push negative links down by creating and promoting accurate and truthful content.”

On September 1, 2010, the World Economic Forum announced the company as a Technology Pioneer for 2011.

A February 2012 report in Bloomberg Businessweek called Reputation.com “the most prominent player” in online reputation management, but noted that the company, and others in the field, are having difficulty controlling their own online search profiles. The company charges its customers at least $1000 a year for its service.


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