The Washington Post carries an interesting article on firms like International Reputation Management that help people and organizations shape their digital image. The article describes how IRM helped Sue Scheff, a consultant to “parents of troubled teens”, to up her image after a concerted flame attack by critics using domains and MySpace. The Post reports:
IRM aims to get lots of information out there about clients, in various places, so that a search gives a more complete and nuanced profile of who they are. Kader started with a printout of the top 100 hits on a Google search and went through them one by one, asking whether individual results — such as her campaign contributions — were good, bad or neutral.
He asked what she wanted the world to know about her. Then he started digging for good things, like an op-ed piece she had written and television interviews she had given that he could post on YouTube. He pitched stories about her to various publications. And he created links from popular sites to those online stories to entice the search engine.
Now her firm’s Web site is the first result and other good ones follow.
…Google does not object in principle to people adding positive content to outrank the negative. But a spokeswoman said in an e-mail, “if you use spammy and manipulative techniques to get this positive content to rank highly, we may take action on it.
Meanwhile the Seattle PI runs a story about how spammers and scammers are targeting those of us letting everything hang out as we live our digital lives through social networks. We have to be careful how to read this one as it’s obviously a scare story made up by McAfee to sell more of their protection software and the Seattle paper has just run as news. Nevertheless, the press release, sorry, the article says:
Easy access to details such as users’ nicknames, hobbies and film preferences on social networking sites including News Corp.’s MySpace helps scammers trick users through familiarity, the company said.
“We believe that cyber criminals are going out and developing these pages and developing networks of friends to try and get information,” Sal Viveros, a security analyst for McAfee, said in an interview Wednesday.
For those of you who are interested in privacy and personal identity, read PSFK’s Red Coat Black Coat paper.