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ReputationDefender

By David J. Meier

We’ve all heard the stories: employee gets upset, says something about their boss online, boss sees it, and BAM, fired. As information continues to stick around, people find it increasingly beneficial to think before launching a raging tweet. Here lies the opportunity: what if I can pay someone to gather that information and potentially get rid of it? Enter ReputationDefender.

Their business consists of three key ideas:

  • Search: Through search ReputationDefender will find and present information about you so it’s easy to understand.
  • Destroy: Remove (for a per-incident fee) information that you don’t care to have strewn about the Internet.
  • Control: Through search and destroy you can now control how others see you online.

The company currently has multiple products that all play to specific areas of uncertainty most people have online: children, reputation, and privacy. Reputation is broken out into two different products, where one side takes on unwanted information, and the other appears to be SEO for your name (let’s not go there). The two main questions you may be asking yourself about the service are whether it works and, conversely, whether it’s worthwhile?

ReputationDefender’s approach makes sense, but isn’t practical in terms of execution. If there was a service today that could reliably remove information that might be incriminating or defamatory in nature from all the dark corners of the Internet, the game of privacy would be considerably different. Truth be told, that’s not how it works. While this is a topic that we could discuss at great lengths the simple take away is information replicates and redistributes at an exponential rate which adds to the depth and complexity of information sprawl. Now take into consideration all the sites that go to great lengths to keep information free from manual expungement: Wikileaks, The Pirate Bay, and The Onion to name a few. OK, well, not The Onion, but that’s still some funny stuff. The point is that if someone wants to drag your otherwise good reputation through the mud, there are far too many ways to publish it with relatively little you can do about it. Paying someone $44.90 (minimum price to enroll in a monthly MyReputation subscription plus use the ‘Destroy’ assistance one time) isn’t going to change that. Not convinced? Keep an eye out for the way law enforcement is scouring the Internet these days, using it as a preemptive tool to address what some may consider an idle threat, and you can start to see that there’s more archiving done than you’d probably care to think about.

Take a realistic approach to the root of the problem by saying that anything you post to the Internet will never be guaranteed private forever. Sites are bought out, information is sold, and breaches / leaks are a daily occurrence. The only control you have is how you put that information out in the first place. I wish it were different, but for $14.95 a month (sans any ‘Destroy’ attempts) you are better off investing in encryption or password management software to reduce your exposure where you do have some control. Then again, Dr. Phil may be able to persuade you otherwise.

P.S. I’m confident this service is full of holes, but you might say I don’t have any real proof. That’s going to change though as we put the service to the grinder on Mike and Rich. Stay tuned!

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Comments

Interesting product. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the ‘grinder’. Does it store credentials?

By Marisa Fagan


Great article discussing the strengths and weaknesses of ReputationDefender. I think you’ve got your head wrapped around the real issue of privacy on the Internet.

Of course, any company selling any product has to distort (frame) the situation a bit to suit their purposes. For this reason, I think that ReputationDefender “dumbs down” the conversation in order to sell their product. Can’t blame ‘em though.

By Wes


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