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Glenn Beck on Online Reputation Management
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I just caught the tail end of it yesterday, but on Glenn Beck's Headline News program yesterday, he mentioned a story about Miss New Jersey, Amy Palumbo, who claims she`s being blackmailed by somebody who is threatening to reveal photographs of her that originated on her Facebook page.

On the program, syndicated talk show host Glenn Beck touched on an important issue that is becoming a very hot topic in the online world and that is reputation management. Beck will be doing a spot tonight on online reputation managment and how much it costs to change the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) of you on the Internet thereby preventing any negative publicity from being visable.

Here is part of the transcript from the July 10th episode.

BECK: Coming up, evidently photos from Miss New Jersey`s Facebook page have her doing some serious damage control. I don`t know if you`ve been following this story, but something doesn`t smell right. She claims she`s being blackmailed. Stop me if I`m wrong here, but does publishing photos on the Internet give you reasonable expectation of privacy? We`ll find out in just a bit.

BECK: This is the world we live in. Why is it we have gone from a world where you actually had to earn something, you actually had to do something, you had to have value, you had to create value. Now, you don`t have to create value. You could be Paris Hilton. You can spread your legs in green-o-vision, and, you know, make millions of dollars. God bless America. You don`t actually have to do anything. You get a trophy just for playing.

Now Miss New Jersey, Amy Palumbo, claims she`s being blackmailed by somebody who is threatening to reveal photographs of her that originated on her Facebook page. Palumbo said the pictures don`t feature nudity or anything illegal but police are investigating.

My question is why doesn`t she just release the pictures herself and put an end to the whole thing? She`s Miss New Jersey. How bad can they be? How embarrassing can they be? They kill people in New Jersey.

Plus, what if somebody tried to do this to you? In the Internet age, bound to be some photos out there of, you know, you that you don`t want people to see like me in the white pants. I look like Thurston Howell (ph). Hello, lovie.

Potential uncomfortable media firestorm could come my way just from a picture of me in these pants. Michael Fertik is the CEO of reputationdefenders.com. Michael, let me start with her. Something doesn`t smell right on this story. She says there`s nothing illegal. Maybe she was drinking a beer or kissing her boyfriend. What -- what harm would come out of this? Do they -- is she afraid that they`ve augmented these?

MICHAEL FERTIK, REPUTATIONDEFENDERS.COM: Well, I haven`t seen the pictures, and I haven`t talked to her, but I can speculate in broad strokes based on the experiences that some of my clients and perspective clients have had.

So the problem that I think she faces as she has stated it is actually quite common, and it affects people in a lot of different walks of life. So the problem is even innocuous pictures or even sort of semi- innocuous pictures, ones that are not terribly salacious in a dress, in a bikini, in a pair of white pants.

BECK: Very puffy weight in white pants.

FERTIK: Very puffy weight on a hot summer day, you`re sweating, they can be refactored and reused and recaptioned by third parties in a way that was never expected, so.

BECK: You have actually had -- and I know that have you some cases that are still in court, so you can`t really talk about them.

FERTIK: Right.

BECK: Explain some of the cases where just innocent things, you know that, people who are not members of, you know, celebrity or whatever, just regular people had their pictures taken and their reputations destroyed.

FERTIK: OK, I will. I should add that we`re not lawyers. We try to solve the problem through moral and economic suasion and also by being very nice typically, or by moving down the results on Google.

But if all those things fail, litigation can start. So the kinds of stories and challenges our clients face range from, well, this was an intimate photograph that was taken by an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend in a moment that did not intend to be a public moment later.

BECK: But these things are out in cyberspace forever. How do you get somebody just to remove it?

FERTIK: Not necessarily. Not necessarily. Sometimes if you ask the right way or if you ask the right people, you can take them down. Sometimes if it`s impossible.

BECK: Is this like a New Jersey thing, if you ask the right way?

FERTIK: Yes, Vito and Tony can come down. So we don`t pack heat here in Silicon Valley. We just use different techniques. Some of them are very polite, and some of them are a little less polite, and then if those techniques don`t work, what you can do is move down the results in the search engine chains, so that`s very important.

It`s important to remember that normally the content itself by itself does not do the harm by itself. It`s normally the content plus its position on the search engine results.

BECK: Mike, we are out of time. I got to have you on tomorrow on the radio program. I would like to book some time with you tomorrow because I want to talk to you a little bit more about this and how much it costs to, you know, change the Google results of you on the Internet.

Full transcript can be found here.

Reputation management is a serious issue. In the vastness that is the Internet reputation management becomes even more important. As an organization it is important to be aware of what others are saying about you, your brand and your services. Ensuring that you have mechanisms in place to examine your online reputation should be your first step in your reputation management strategy.


posted by Jody @ Wednesday, July 11, 2007  
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