|Industry||Online reputation management|
|Headquarters||Redwood City, California, U.S.|
Reputation.com (formerly ReputationDefender) is a private online reputation management (ORM) company based in Redwood City, California. It provides software and services intended to push down or remove negative information and create higher-ranking content from a company or individual. It was founded in 2006 by Michael Fertik and obtained $67 million in funding.
Reputation.com was founded as ReputationDefender by a lawyer, Michael Fertik, in 2006. According to Fertik, it was intended to help parents after their children reveal too much online, but most of his clients were young job-seekers. By 2007 it had grown to 55 employees and $2 million in revenue. In January 2010, the company changed its name from ReputationDefender to Reputation.com. In 2011 it was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum for its effect on society. The company has raised $67 million in venture capital. As of 2012 it was not making a profit.
Reputation.com is the most well-known online reputation management company. Its tactics and services vary from one client to another and there are separate sets of products for consumers and businesses respectively. It may generate monthly reports noting changes in search results or ask websites to remove private information. In other cases it will generate websites and social media profiles that are intended to rank higher in searches than negative results. It may also refer some clients to lawyers. The company often begins by writing to the operators of websites hosting negative content about the client, asking them to remove the information. According to the Wall Street Journal, the letters "don't make threats... but instead try to appeal to recipients' sense of fairness." It generally cannot remove newspapers or court records.
The company charges its customers at least $1000 a year for its services. In 2007 it introduced a $10,000 service for executives. Some of the company’s software includes scoring systems used to identify consumer information and generate reputation scores for individuals. It has software that locates websites where an individual’s personal data is unknowingly listed and attempt to get it de-listed. It can also track online reviews and contact customers to solicit for positive reviews.
In 2012, BusinessWeek noted that "Reputation.com scam" was an autocompleted phrase when typing the company's name into the Google search engine and that many unfavorable search results were hidden on the second page of search results for the keyword "Reputation.com".
According to The New York Times, Reputation.com is popular, but controversial, due to its efforts to remove negative information that may be of public interest. According to Susan Crawford, a cyberlaw specialist from Cardozo Law School, most websites will remove negative content when contacted to avoid litigation. The Wall Street Journal noted that in some cases writing a letter to a detractor can have un-intended consequences, though the company makes an effort to avoid writing to certain website operators that are likely to respond negatively. The company's CEO says it respects the First Amendment and does not try to remove "genuinely newsworthy speech." It generally cannot remove major news stories from established publications or court records.
In 2008, former AutoAdmit administrator Anthony Ciolli filed a lawsuit against Reputation.com, among other defendants. The suit was in response to a lawsuit brought against Ciolli by two Yale Law School students for being defamed on the Internet message board, which is a forum for current and prospective law school students. Ciolli claims to have lost a job offer as a result of negative publicity from the original suit.
Two months after the company was founded, ReputationDefender was hired to remove online images of 18-year old Nikki Catsouras's lethal car accident, which police said was leaked by an officer. The company was able to get the images taken down on about 300 out of 400 websites. The New York Post said their effort was "surprisingly effective" but raised concerns that its polite letters were resulting in censorship of material offensive to their clients. Newsweek said it was ineffective. ReputationDefender said removing the images was an "unwinnable battle".
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