June 28, 2019

Reputation managers will scrub your sordid search results… for a price

The “reputation management” industry offers criminals and celebrities a way to cover up their negative Google results.

All right, all you digital narcissists, be honest: How often do you Google yourself? That’s right: All of you (and if you haven’t, you really should).

For most, the results are mildly embarrassing. But for some — like payday loan sharks with arrest records — those results can get grimy.

But, per BuzzFeed, “reputation managers” have developed ways to scrub search results — for everyone from criminals to Russian oligarchs — until they’re squeaky clean.

These services game Google to cover up content

Although it’s hard to remove negative press from Google, it’s easy to add positive press — and adding enough can bury everything from arrest records to negative customer reviews.

It works like this: Reputation management services create fake personas with the same names as their client. Then they use spammy SEO to push those fake personas to the top of search results.

These shady search practices range from creating “SEO scholarships” — real scholarships that give fake personas credible links to credible “.edu” domains — to “contributing” dozens of articles to blogs for links. 

The craziest part? It’s all totally legal

The reputation management industry is almost entirely unregulated, so “consultants” can create as many fake personas as needed.

The process ain’t cheap: “Internet Reputation Services” charges up to $30k for “complete removal of negative content,” and “ReputationX” charges $8k per month for “high profile individuals.”

Although popular among payday loan scammers, reputation management isn’t only for criminals — it’s also great for secret agents and the true heros of this world — celebs.

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