Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ReputationDefender Launches NameGrab

Many of my readers know I am probably one of ReputationDefender’s largest fans. If you have read my recent book, Google Bomb, you will completely understand why.

Back in 2003 I was attacked viciously online. Slime balls of lies, twisted truths and much more. In 2006 I won a landmark case with a jury verdict for damages of over $11M! The jury sent a very clear and strong message – free speech does not condone defamation. Be careful what you post online, it may not only haunt you later, it could cost you a bundle.

After my court room victory, I felt vindicated and like a new person. However what I didn’t realize is that all that ugly stuff online still existed.

My next call-out was to Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of what was, back in 2006, a small new company. He assured me he could help me with my virtual image. As promised, within a few months, I was back to myself both emotionally and virtually.

Since then, I have recommended these services to many people. I receive hundreds of emails of people that are being harmed online. ReputationDefender has grown from the few people I remember, to an entire staff of caring and dedicated people that are there to help you manage your online reputation.

For the record: I am not a spokesperson or sponsor of ReputationDefender. I do not participate in their referral affiliate program and I have never received any gifts or money from them. I am simply a very satisfied client.

Today they announced their latest service, NameGrab. Here is their recent press release. I am confident this is another fantastic asset to their growing and successful business. Read on!

ReputationDefender Launches Online Identity Management Service

NameGrab Allows Users to Control and Protect Their Names Across the Web, Dominate Search Results and Promote Their Personal Brands Online

REDWOOD CITY, CA–(Marketwire – November 16, 2009) – ReputationDefender, the leading comprehensive online reputation and privacy management company, today introduced NameGrab, a new service that allows users to control their online identities and promote their personal brands online. NameGrab’s proprietary technology automates the process of reserving your name across hundreds of social networking sites, thus ensuring both that search results produce the ‘real you’ and that your personal brand is accurately reflected online.In today’s search-dominated world, your high-quality online identity has never been more crucial. NameGrab provides the tools to help you proactively secure that identity by claiming the most important social profiles on the Web on your behalf. Using NameGrab’s innovative technology, you can now:

– Control and protect your name across the Web;
– Own your name on hundreds of social networking sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter;
– Prevent imposters from posing as you online;
– Dominate search results for your name; and
– Ensure that people find the real you.

“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of protecting your good name on the Internet. By gaining control over your brand and image across social networking sites, you can ensure that friends, colleagues and potential customers using these powerful online properties can easily find the real you and not someone else,” said Michael Fertik, CEO and founder of ReputationDefender.

“NameGrab is ideal for anyone with a presence online — new college graduates, job hunters, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and realtors who use the Web for new client leads. NameGrab is the only service that makes reserving and managing your name across social networking sites truly effortless — ultimately putting control of your name back in your own hands, where it belongs.”

NameGrab is also available for businesses looking to improve customer connectivity and efficiently manage their online footprints. NameGrab provides access to all registered usernames and passwords within one convenient, secure location, limiting excess email, and allowing users to easily manage which profiles need content and be alerted to the latest social networks and new profile availability. For more information on NameGrab, please visit: http://www.namegrab.com/

About ReputationDefender

ReputationDefender is the world’s only comprehensive online reputation and privacy management company. Through its suite of services, including MyReputation(SM), MyEdge(SM), MyChild(SM), and MyPrivacy(SM), ReputationDefender helps its customers manage and protect their online information. ReputationDefender also helps customers promote themselves and their businesses online. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, ReputationDefender serves customers in over 40 countries and has been featured in Washington Post and Forbes cover stories, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Follow ReputationDefender on Twitter @RepDef

Visit ReputationDefenderBlog and get involved with the conversation and chat!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ReputationDefender - Parenting in the Digital Age

I created my organization, Parents Universal Resource Experts in 2001. Many parents contact us for assistance when they are at their wit’s end with their teenager. Parenting has so many more challenges since 2001, with the ever expanding technology that seems almost impossbile to keep up with.

Now bullying has escalated to cyberbullying. Texting has created sexting. For parents, teachers and most adults, we are struggling to keep up. Today I speak a lot about protecting your teens online – what they post today, can haunt them tomorrow. More and more colleges are using Search Engines to research their candidates, do you know what Google is saying about your potential college applicant?

ReputationDefender is the original online reputation management services, and since 2006 they have been helping people learn about their virtual presence. I personally have retained them, and find them to be priceless. Their service to protect your children is also priceless – take a moment to read their recent Blog post. They are always 10 steps ahead of us! As a parent, we need to be there too!

Parenting in the Digital Age

By Rob Frappier

It’s 2009. That means that there are children using the internet everyday who were born after the Y2K scare. Am I the only one that finds that fact somewhat mind boggling?In the last decade, the internet has grown exponentially. With the creation of social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook, the internet has become more than a place to seek out information, but to connect with friends. For kids, the development of social networking expanded the school day from 7 hours to 24 hours, replacing the phone as the place where students shared gossip after the last bell rang.

Along with the increased internet usage, came a new problem, cyberbullying. Kids and teens, many no doubt struggling with their own emotional development and maturation issues, used the internet as a tool to reach out and anonymously torment their peers. In the most simplistic cases, cyberbullying leads to depression and anxiety. In severe cases, where abuse is especially virulent and prolonged, it has led teens to commit suicide. Apart from cyberbullying, there’s the danger of your child meeting a cyberpredator online, or, posting inappropriate and reputation damaging information about themselves or your family.

The list goes on and on.

When you have a child, you’re expected to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders for them. In the digital age, that means carrying the weight of the World Wide Web as well. As scary as it can be to think about the dangers lurking online (in addition to the countless everyday worries), it doesn’t do any good to ignore these issues. If your kids have more experience using the internet than you do, that doesn’t automatically mean that they understand the proper way to use it. As in any other aspect of life, your kids need you to help guide them, and with the internet that means setting expectations and abiding by them.

There are a number of ways you can help protect your kids from getting into trouble online. Here at ReputationDefender, we offer MyChild. With MyChild, you can see where and in what context your child’s name appears on the web. Through personalized monthly reports, parents can keep an eye on how their kids are using the web and help head off any potential problems before they spin out of control. Later in the week, I will be offering some practical advice for parents on securing their children’s safety online and protecting their family’s reputation.Being a parent isn’t easy under the best circumstances. That’s why, from our earliest days as a company, we have been committed to making the internet a safer and better place for kids. We show this in our products, and in our work with other leaders in the field, such as the Internet Keep Safe Coalition.

Check back to the ReputationDefender Blog later in the week for more help and advice on raising your children in the digital age.

Follow ReputationDefender on Twitter @RepDef

(I believe in ReputationDefender. I do not receive any referral fees and have never been paid by them. I am simply a satisfied client and Parent Advocate that wants to share information to help other parents.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month with ReputationDefender

By Rob Frappier

October is the Sixth Annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, the theme of this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month is “Our Shared Responsibility.”
“Our Shared Responsibility” is about individuals taking a pro-active stance in protecting their privacy and security online. Rather than relying on the government or industry groups to regulate how you use the Internet, take it upon yourself to protect yourself online. You should also take some time to teach your children about the Internet and the things that they should and shouldn’t do online.

For some great advice on how to protect yourself and your family online, check out these “Top Tips” from the National Cyber Security Alliance. Of course, here at ReputationDefender, we think about cyber security 365 days a year, so we have lots of great resources you can check out as well. If you’d like to learn more about how ReputationDefender can help you stay safe online, contact one of our Online Reputation Management experts today.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

ReputationDefender and iKeepSafe Provide Online Reputation Resources to Guidance Counselors

ReputationDefender has been working with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe), a non-profit that works for the health and safety of youth online, to create resources that help guidance counselors educate kids in the US about how their online reputations can keep them safe, and help (rather than harm) their ability to get into college — Download ReputationDefender’s guide to keeping your kids safe online today!

iKeepSafe launched Project PRO (Privacy & Online Reputation) at this summer’s American School Counselors Association annual meeting in Dallas, TX. I’d like to send a special thank you to our reputation agents who contributed their expertise in creating the booklet, DVD and online materials (http://www.ikeepsafe.org/ASCA) that have now been distributed to educators nationwide.

Marsali Hancock, President of iKeepSafe, on the launch of Project PRO:

“What youth post online today directly impacts their future academic and employment opportunities. ReputationDefender has worked closely with iKeepSafe to develop content for school counselors that teaches students how to protect their privacy online, and help students create an online reputation that is an asset rather than a liability. We are grateful for ReputationDefender’s support and for sharing their expertise about managing and building an online reputation that opens doors to future opportunities, rather than eliminating them.”
Concerned parents can also find helpful tips in these materials for ensuring the safety of their kids online, and try MyChild to combat the spread of potentially harmful information about their kids online. As always, we here at ReputationDefender recommend that you keep current with technology, keep communicating with your kids about what they’re doing online, and keep checking on their Internet activity. With a great online reputation, the sky is the limit for your kids!

ReputationDefender and iKeepSafe’s 3 Key Tips for Parents:

1. Keep Current with Technology: Talk to teachers about what forms of Internet safety tools they implement in computer labs and technology classes, consider these safety tools for home use, and stay up-to-date on the capabilities of any mobile devices your child may have.

2. Keep Communicating with Your Kids: Find out who your child talks to online, educate your kids about the permanence of any “digital footprints” they leave behind, limit the use of social networks, and make it a habit to engage your kids in critical conversation—the more you talk to your kids about their online usage, the more they will learn to use digital products in a safe and healthy manner.

3. Keep Checking Your Kid’s Internet Activity: Keep computers in a central public location, check your child’s browsing histories, and limit your child’s computer time—there’s a whole world of outdoor and offline activities where they should be involved!

Follow Reputation Defender on Twitter @RepDef

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: ReputationDefender CEO Michael Fertik Talks “Google Insurance”

It’s no secret that people use Google to learn about potential dates or possible job applicants. In fact, it’s practically expected in the digital age. Despite this seeming awareness of how Google search can affect one’s life, however, few people invest in what ReputationDefender CEO Michael Fertik calls “Google Insurance.”

Just as you have home or car insurance to prevent damage to your belongings, you should also have Google insurance to prevent damage to your personal brand online. In a recent post at the blog Plus&Play.com, Michael Fertik explained some simple ways to protect your personal brand from misinformation on Google.

Register the URLs for your name and variants, and consider creating a blog. The objective here is to own the first 1-5 results that appear on search engines if someone searches your name. I don’t think most people should be bloggers, but having a Google-friendly and SEO-rich blog platform like Wordpress or TypePad that is updated even twice per month as an online journal is worth the investment for having first say in your image.

For additional advice on personal branding in the digital age, make sure to check out the rest of the blog post, which can be found here.

Thanks to the Plus&Play blog for helping spread the word about the importance of pro-active Online Reputation Management.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Are you jeopardizing your job with social media?

Source: Baltimore Internet Examiner
By: Chip Dizard

You have heard the horror stories, last year, a North Carolina school district disciplined several faculty members for Facebook content such as personal photos and comments about students. Wired.com reported that an Associated Press staffer in Philadelphia was reprimanded for a Facebook posting that criticized his company.

According to Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group, a human resources consulting firm says "If I can put up pictures of the kids, I can put up pictures from a meeting,". "If I can talk about a recipe I saw with my sister, I can put up an article about something I saw that's work-related. ... People are talking about you, whether you want them to or not. As a company, you need to think about how you want to be positioned."

Companies are now dealing with this dilemma because work and personal lives often collide. Many companies have resorted to blocking social networking sites due to lost productivity and network concerns.

The key for employees to know is that whatever you post online can be used against you. Employers are often checking your online profile as a condition of employment. I had a client recently come to me about a web site link , she consented to do an interview on a major cable network, but it was for a surgery she wanted to keep private. So when you googled her name her employees found out that she had cosmetic surgery. This was something she agreed to with the cable network and it couldn't be taken down. For those people who want to protect their reputation, there are a few companies that will do that for a fee. One that is very popular is Reputation Defender.

Whatever you do, just be wise and trust your gut, if it seems inappropriate it probably is, I always err on the side of caution, especially in the workplace.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The New Facebook Family: Reevaluating Social Media

By Adam Tanguay

Over the last few months I have observed an interesting change in the world of Facebook. Where I used to see friends socializing, I now see mothers producing safety-themed wall posts on my friends’ pages. Where I used to see old classmates partying it up, I now see pictures of younger siblings conducting acts better left undocumented. Call it the new Facebook Family.
The evidence of the new Facebook Family is everywhere.

Directly below [above] my friend’s recent post decrying a party-induced headache is his mother’s serene avatar, reminding him politely about the dangers of drinking. Distant cousins who I might not see for years at a time now receive glimpses into my daily life and inquire about personal family matters on a regular basis. It is obvious that there is a new family present in the once esoteric world of social media, and this burgeoning group has drastically altered the core dynamics of our digital space.

As a brash teen with a passion for creative media outlets, I relished my early social media experiences with MySpace, LiveJournal, and Friendster. These digital spaces were exciting because I felt like I belonged to an innovative new web faction separate from popular culture. My grandma didn’t have a MySpace profile and Wal-Mart wasn’t going to post comments on my LiveJournal posts.

But all that has changed. The geeks, hackers, and techies are now shoulder to shoulder with moms and business executives in freshly commercialized social media channels. I even heard Tom Hanks talking about Twitter last night on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. It appears that, as the social media family continues to expand into new domains and infiltrate the general public’s collective conscious, the subculture that spawned it all is destined to quietly slip away into a new corner of the Web.

I believe social media’s move into the mainstream is positive. The amazing benefits of this space are now accessible to everyone. Average Internet users now wield the tools to control their online reputation and identity, empowering average people to explore a world that was once extremely difficult for outsiders to understand.

However, this drastic accessibility shift has also changed the nature of social media. Savvy advertisers and recruiters were successful in early Web 2.0 channels because everything was still relatively “underground” in the eyes of users. Now that your mom Tweets all day long, the edginess early social media marketers once enjoyed has been severely incapacitated.

It is hard to say whether the new Facebook Family has inhibited social media from influencing interactions. However, if our favorite social media sites weaken with an influx of ads, fake-users, and a general loss of DIY spirit, it could signal the death of the industry. I like to remain optimistic. I believe a strong base of users reflecting their true online identities and a spirit of positive interaction will help maintain the integrity of the new family in which we find ourselves.

What do you think? How have you adapted to the new Facebook Family?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ReputationDefender: Bing vs Google vs Yahoo People Search

Source: ReputationDefender

Last week, we wrote about Bing, Microsoft’s latest foray into the search engine market. At that time, the search engine was only open to private users. Today, however, Bing was released to the public, setting the Internet alight with buzz about whether or not Microsoft’s new “Decision Engine” is better than Google at delivering valuable results.

What’s the verdict?So far, the results are mixed.

While many are impressed by Bing’s search capabilities, particularly when compared to its predecessor, Live Search, the prevailing notion is that most people won’t find enough good in Bing to leave Google.

Of course, it is important to note that I said most people and not all people.You see, some users might actually switch their preferred search engine. This is why it is more important than ever for individuals to understand how their online image appears in not just Google, but Bing and Yahoo as well. After all, 30% of all Internet searches are person-related.

So how does Bing stack up against Google and Yahoo for people searching? Let’s check out the results with the world’s most famous PC: Bill Gates. (For a different take on the state of search engines, check out Danny Sullivan’s thoughtful post at Search Engine Land.)

Check it out here: http://michaelfertik.com/news/bing-vs-google-vs-yahoo-for-people-searching/

Friday, May 29, 2009

Is Google the Enemy of the Truth?

Source: ReputationDefenderBlog

Google has taught the world that great things can be free. More than any other company, Google’s existential and commercial constitution holds that information should be free to Internet readers, in exchange for some amount of advertising revenue.

But even Google cannot give us a free lunch. The costs of this Google-culture shift are appearing, and they are heavy. Newspapers across the country are imploding as they fail to replace lost subscription, classifieds, and print advertising revenue with online eyeballs dollars. Efforts to impose subscription fees on Internet readers have met with protest, scorn, or reader disappearance.

It’s not all Google’s fault. Newspapers–and TV and radio–have been slow to change. Cross-linking among sites, which generates strong search engine ranking, has come only lately to newspaper webpages. Traditional news media have likewise only recently started to make their pages “persistent”–so that they stay up on the web permanently–which adds to search visibility over time. (Both of these “rules” of Internet life were created, basically, by Google.)

But the expectation that “information must be free” is an article of faith among the Internet generation. This is a fatal problem for journalism. Someone has to pay reporters and editors. Online advertising revenue isn’t enough: according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, half of newspaper readers reach their content via the web, but newspapers generate less than 10% of their revenue from the Internet. That’s a formula for impending doom. The media industry is laying off heavily. According to the News Cycle blog, over the past 16 months, 27,000 newspaper employees have lost their jobs. When the economy comes back, some advertising revenue will return, but most of the papers will be gone, and the higher advertising rates won’t be sufficient to bring them back.

True, bloggers and amateur journalists are filling some of the void (see the citation in the previous paragraph). But it doesn’t take a genius to observe that bloggers are simply not subject to the same tenets that the formal editorial process demands. Moreover, the economic threat of liability for libelous publications has long imposed on professional outlets incentives to get their stories right. By contrast, nearly all bloggers have small enough incomes to be judgment proof, or they are anonymous, so the barrier to suing them is much higher. The net result is a lower quality of reporting and fact-finding.

Not all the papers will die. The top five in the US will most likely thrive. This may guarantee excellent coverage of New York, LA, Washington, Chicago, Wall Street, national politics, business, and global affairs. Very local police blotters may continue to blot. But who will cover Newark, St. Louis, Boston with regularity and care? What about the smaller cities? Who will gather sources and data for small stories that later make up the infrastructure supporting the larger, trendline stories that reach across towns, states, and decades?

Hope springs eternal. The new website True/Slant is intelligently mashing up economic features of traditional publishing, Digg, Arts & Letters Daily, and pay-for-play blogging to seek revenues. The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post are creatively tying long-term subscription revenue to technology hardware purchases in a deal struck with Amazon for discounted Kindles. David Carr recently suggested in the New York Times that the SEC should hire out-of-work investigative journalists to boost their fact-finding powers. News-gathering agencies seem to be considering, at long last, endowing themselves with long-term foundation-style support. Maybe enhanced feature sets like very-first-look breaking news feeds and searchable archive access will yield unexpected sources of revenue: Walter Isaacson has suggested that readers should pay for pieces that are costly to report. Americans find ways to fill vacuums, so there’s always reason for optimism, but, at scale, good reporting needs to be financially incentivized, and we haven’t yet found solutions.

And what happens if the reporting doesn’t get done? The quality of information will decline over time. The relatively good information gathered, analyzed, and published by professional organizations will be replaced with relatively bad information from unedited and consequence-free sources. Google will continue to do what it does best: find and present massive amounts of data to consumers hungry for information. But Google will, increasingly, be finding speculation, innuendo, sloppy reporting, and falsehood. It will not be finding the truth.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Kids and Protection Online

As a parent advocate, I am proactive in helping parents keep their kids safe in cyberspace. One of my favorite services, which I believe is priceless for all families with kids online, is ReputationDefender. I have personally used their services for several years and have been completely satisfied. It is a cost-effective way to help protect your children while they surf.

What is MyChild?

MyChild by ReputationDefender scours the Internet for all references to your child or teen - by name, photography, screen name, or social network profiles - and packages it to you in an easy-to-understand report. Worried about bullies? Concerned that your teens' friends and peers are posting inappropriate materials online? MyChild searches every corner of the Internet for traces of your kids. If you want to help your teen manage their online reputation, but have felt powerless to do so, ReputationDefender is your answer!
Posted by Sue Scheff at 9:25 AM

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Help ReputationDefender Support Nikki

When a family loses a child, I can’t even imagine the pain they endure. How they wake up the next day, how they feel, what they feel and how they go on with life. When a family loses a child in a tragic accident it seems it could only compound all the feelings of loss.

On October 31, 2006 the Catsouras family experienced the nightmare every parent fears - losing a teen in a tragic automobile accident.

The accident was the beginning of an emotional roller coaster. If you haven’t heard about this story, it is time to take a moment and help make a difference. Nikki Catsouras, after having a horrific car accident was dead on impact, the scene was described as shocking as Nikki’s head was nearly decapitated.

Can you even imagine as a parent, learning of this? Can you imagine living through this? As a parent advocate and a parent of two young adults now, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what this family has gone through.

What follows next is nothing short of evil, in my opinion. Shortly after Nikki was buried, her parents and sisters still in mourning, the Internet creeped into their lives in the most heinous way. Photo’s of Nikki’s crime scene were posted online! Yes, their daughter’s body, or what was left of it, was going viral! Where is justice? Who in God’s name would do this?

Please take a moment to read “A Tribute to Nikki Catsouras” and sign the petition to help create reasonable protection for personal privacy on the Internet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: ReputationDefender Blog and Their Articles

By Michael Fertik
According to Wikipedia, the phrase “information wants to be free” is an “expression that has come to be the unofficial motto of the free content movement.” Much of what we do at ReputationDefender has to do with this concept. Do we as a society and as individuals really want every type of information to be visible to anyone, at any time? Do we want our medical history, phone numbers, old addresses and private photos to be as readily accessible as, say, who played third base for the Red Sox in 1912? (The answer to this question is found below).
I recently read a couple of books that, specifically speaking in one case and broadly speaking in another, illustrate the narrative of information’s wanting to be free (in the sense of freely available), and the potentially history-altering or life-changing consequences that may arrive when it is.

The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Hershel Shanks tells the story of the battle to wrest access over the Scrolls, discovered in the early 1950s, from an exclusionary group of scholars who more or less refused to publish or grant access to them for decades. It also offers a precis of the potential religious and historical significance the scrolls, including possible redefinition of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism.

Even though the Scrolls represented the most significant biblical archaeological find of the 20th century, the scholars who worked on deciphering them declined to publish their findings or even more than very narrowly disseminate facsimiles of the primary materials for a startlingly long time. It was not till Shanks and a handful of others forced the hands of the scholars that the world finally was able to see the scrolls for themselves. Now, thanks to their good efforts and the power of the Internet, together with the work of places like the Library of Congress, we can all see detailed images of the scrolls themselves, at any time, wherever we are in the world.

The publication of the primary material of scrolls has generated a massive bibliography and new fields of scholarship (including one called Qumran Studies, after the location of the scrolls’ discovery). In this case, information really did want to be free, and it took the hard work of a dedicated group of people to make it free.

Still, it seems, there are persistent and, according to Shanks, apparently plausible rumors of other intact Dead Sea Scrolls that are circulating in private hands around the world. The information bound up in these items, should they exist, needs to be set free through their publication, so that a more complete picture of this historical time can continue to be assembled. Even more scrolls are expected to be lurking in caves around Qumran the entrances to which have been covered up by earthquake over the millennia.

Gunther Grass’s memoir Peeling the Onion gets at the theme of information freedom differently. Grass, a Nobel prize winning German author, has been writing for more than half a century, during which time he has been an outspoken literary and activist left-of-center critic of Germany’s Nazi past, of its collective guilt, and of insufficient transparency and penance among the German people for their participation in the Holocaust and in the other crimes of the Third Reich. In the mid-1980s, he attacked President Reagan and Chancellor Kohl for visiting a cemetery than included Waffen graves. He was often described as–and seems to have been comfortable with the appellation–one of Germany’s chief moral authorities.

However, in 2006, it was revealed that Grass had himself been a member of the Waffen-SS. He joined when he was 17. Spiegel Online confirmed the basic facts of this story through the publication of several historical records. Grass published Peeling the Onion that year. While it purports to be a memoir of his life, or at least the first few decades of it, more or less up to the time he started writing The Tin Drum, one can’t help but get the feeling that he wrote it as an apologia pro sua Waffen vita.

In one long stretch of the book–the longest and most detailed piece of it, at least as my memory serves me as I write this–he makes himself out to be a coward (but only just) in World War II. He runs away, he doesn’t know how to use a gun, he fears for his life, he soils himself, he spends time in a POW camp, etc.. It comes across, after all the nouns and verbs, as an attempt to explain away the significance of his fighting for the Reich and his subsequent decades of hiding it. Was he really a Nazi? This seems very unlikely. But it did seem to me that, burdened by his secret and the gap between his public persona and his private history, and perhaps also worried that the information about his past would eventually want to be free, Grass set out to cast it in the most luminous and best-shaped bronze he could.

As a book, Peeling the Onion is also a powerful literary biography of a man who must be one of the most highly literate writers now living. Grass gives us the source material from his life experiences of some of his brightly vivid major and minor characters. I am guessing that the memoir will be used as some sort of key to unlock his novels and plays by Grass scholars for many years to come. I also doubt that Grass’s past will obliterate entirely my own view of his writing (The Meeting at Telgte is outstanding). But in the end, I don’t think I will cherish this memoir.

Two books about information that, we might say, should be free.

(The answer to the question who played third base for Red Sox in 1912 is Larry Gardner. This is the kind of obscure piece of information that becomes immediately accessible on the Internet, through a single search on a major search engine. I’ll be revisiting what we might call the Larry Gardner Theory of the Internet in future writings).

Monday, May 11, 2009

ReputationDefender in Toronto Sun Article

Source: TorontoSun.com

Becoming web dead

Web content that sullies your reputation can be cleansed


It was 3 a.m. when Lori Paris sleepwalked her way into work, ready to anchor the overnight shift at her local radio station.

As always, she went to log into her Facebook account looking for the company of virtual friends at a lonely hour, but was blocked, greeted instead by hostile "error" messages flashing on her screen.

"Then a co-worker who works down the hall ran down asking, 'What do you need help with?" Paris recalled.

While the real McCoy was sitting at her desk in a Toronto radio station, an imposter from England had hijacked Paris' Facebook profile and was pleading for help in her status message.

"Apparently, I was stuck in London and needed $500 to get home," Paris said.

"I had been robbed at gunpoint and had no money to get back."

For the next few days, Paris was fielding frantic phone calls from friends and family who were ready to fork over money.

"I didn't want anyone to get ripped off," she said.

Unlike stories of feckless users who post personal information on public profiles, Paris had restricted access to friends she approved.

She was likely the victim of a worldwide phishing attack earlier this year that used the same ruse of being stuck in London and struck a "small number of users," said Debbie Frost, a Facebook spokesman.

"We're reminding users to be very suspicious of anyone, even friends, who ask you over the Internet to send money."

But users overestimate the security levels of social networking sites and forget that they're for-profit businesses with crude security systems -- not banks, said Avner Levin, the director of the Privacy Institute at Toronto's Ryerson University.

Meanwhile, though identity thieves are creating multiple doppelgangers of people online, an opposite phenomenon has also been surfacing -- scrubbing oneself offline, or web dead.

Companies such as ReputationDefender will scour the Internet and remove unflattering material that could sully their client's online reputation. For example, when a grad student discovered a picture of her half-naked body posted by a bitter ex-boyfriend, she enlisted ReputationDefender's help. The company's strategy is surprisingly simple: They ask the site host politely. They're not a legal team, says founder Michael Fertik, but they've seldom had to resort to legal methods in the 10,000 removal requests made so far.

Not everything is erasable. Official records like court documents and news clippings are immune.

"People are alive to the fact that the web is not their enemy," Fertik said from California. "It's a fact of life and people want to have as much control over it as possible."

But what if you don't have an online profile or e-mail account, as is common among the computer illiterate? Don't be quick to congratulate yourself on preserving anonymity, experts say.

Because unbeknownst to you, you could be identified in a nephew's Facebook family picture.

"The world is changing with social media," Levin said. "People will have to play by a new set of rules. Very little is sacred or within our control anymore."

But that shouldn't mean we get little say in how our information is used, say experts at the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic in Ottawa.

"The big criticism of social networking sites is that the terms of use aren't clear," said acting director and lawyer David Fewer. "The benefits are clear, but the cost of engaging in the service is unknown."

Lawyers at the clinic filed a complaint against the networking giant, alleging Facebook's policies violate Canadian privacy law by failing to identify how it collects and uses personal information, and what they do with personal information after users deactivate their accounts.

The policy must be in plain language and refrain from legalese, Fewer said, and clearly spell out privacy settings to its client base, which is made up predominantly of young users.

"The claim that privacy policies take care of everything is an incredible abdication of responsibility," Fewer said.

Facebook officials, meanwhile, maintain the complaint is flawed because it overlooks the obvious: That the data is willingly shared by users.

"At Facebook, we ... believe (the controls) are entirely consistent with both the spirit and requirements of Canadian privacy law," Frost said.

But are we asking too much of a service that, at the end of the day, is a for-profit business and not a government institution?

"We need to be reminded that Facebook is a business and has to make money," Levin said. "There's a strong sense of entitlement to privacy in social media. It's part of a larger sense of entitlement from getting things for free on the Internet like movies, music and software."

When you sign up for a free service, you "choose" to volunteer personal information that's then shared with third-party advertisers -- there has to be an exchange, Levin said.

"People have unrealistic expectations that you can get the best of both worlds. In the real world, something has to give."


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Michael Fertik Writes Foreword for Google Bomb! An Explosive New Book!

Pre-Order Google Bomb on Amazon.com today!

Our society has reached an all-time low. Simple keystrokes can now literally ruin lives, reputations, and cause years of suffering, and require exorbitant amounts of time, money, and sanity to rebuild a life and/or career that has been shattered by cyberbullying, Internet defamation, identity theft, privacy invasion, and so much more. There is even a term that has emerged into our lexicon that describes the practice of manipulating the ranking of web pages: Google Bomb.

Sue Scheff knows first hand about the devastating effects of Google bombing and Internet defamation. Her reputation was destroyed and she almost lost her business because of false and libelous statements about her and her business that went viral. Falling into a deep depression accompanied by agoraphobia, Sue could not escape the abusive attacks from strangers and the paranoia that accompanies such abuse. However, she fought back, and sued the figure head who launched the attack campaign and was awarded a jury verdict of $11.3 million–a case that has set the precedent for a massive debate on Internet regulation vs. free speech and Internet etiquette and safety policies.

Because there is so much to navigate and know about the unknown and mostly unchartered legal territories of Internet usage, Sue has rounded up some of the world’s most preeminent experts on the newly emerging business of Internet law, including attorney John W. Dozier. In Google™ Bomb, Dozier and Scheff offer a hybrid of memoir and prescriptive self-help, as well as a timely call to action that will arm readers with what they can do to avoid falling victim to cyber abuse, rebuild their own ruined reputations, or avoid unknowingly committing a crime against strangers on the Internet.

Written with two markets in mind: those hundreds of thousands of people who are victims of Internet harassment and cannot afford legal council to help clean up their reputations, and those who have built a career, business, and personal reputation and want to be armed with protection and prevention techniques that will help them avoid falling victim to cyber bullies, hackers, e-vengers, and Phreaks.

The true-life story of Sue Scheff’s landmark lawsuit and the lessons she learned coupled with invaluable expert advice from a top Internet legal and reputation defense expert, Google™ Bomb is a heavy-hitting, one-of-a-kind book that will likely spark debate, controversy, and save lives at the same time.

Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender which is one of the pioneers of Online Reputation Management Services, writes a compelling, informative and engaging foreword. This book is a book that will touch almost everyone that uses the Internet today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tweet Tweet! You’re Fired!

MSNBC and other mainstream media outlets have picked up on the Cisco Fatty story that involves a woman getting fired for her twitter post. Quoting from the page:

Why waste valuable social networking hours getting yourself “Facebook fired,” when Twitter allows you to humiliate yourself quickly, and in 140 characters or less?

A recent tweet by one would-be Cisco employee proves that when it comes to placing a permanent black mark on your resume via the Internet, Twitter is now the tool of choice. To illustrate, here’s the tweet the now Web-infamous “theconnor” shared with the world:

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

It wasn’t long before Tim Levad, a “channel partner advocate” for Cisco Alert, shared this open response:

“Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”

Was “theconnor’s” job offer rescinded? Nosy netizens have yet to suss that out — but they’re doing their darndest to make “theconnor’s” life miserable in the meantime. It didn’t matter that “theconnor” almost immediately set his Twitter account to private and deleted all information from a home page. It was already too late.

Twitter is a great tool to connect people and ReputationDefender supports the emergeant micro-blogging platform. Users should be aware that potential employees are viewing online messages and that the material they post online can both help and hurt their online reputation.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reputation Defender: A Necessary Service in Today's CyberWorld

Defending reputations may be good business

Defending innocent victims who have been slimed on the Internet is not only a righteous cause, it might be good business. At least that's what VCs who are pumping money into ReputationDefender appear to believe. The 3-year-old Redwood City company, which assists people in removing libelous, egregiously offensive or privacy-invading material from Web sites, is well on its way to raising $5.3 million from investors. "We've had 10 quarters of growth," said CEO Michael Fertik."We're getting more customers, and they're spending more." The current economic climate may have something to do with it.

One of ReputationDefender's services, enabling customer-written resumes to show up prominently on search engines, has proven to be a particular money spinner. "As people are looking more and more for jobs, they are more concerned with what may be being said about them on the Internet," Fertik said.ReputationDefender's investors so far include Maple Investments in Menlo Park and European Founders Fund from Germany.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

ReputationDefender Blog: Identity Theft Made Easy with Twitter

Source: ReputationDefender Blog

In case you didn’t already know, Twitter is the latest “it” fad in the world of social media. From Demi Moore’s suicide prevention tweeting to the news of a potential Google-Twitter merger, it seems that not one week goes by without a major news story about the popular microblogging service.

Unfortunately, it isn’t all wine and roses at Twitter. Since the service emerged in 2006, one of the consistent complaints against it has been the ease with which individuals can set up phony accounts in someone else’s name. With such a large volume of users, it is impossible for Twitter to monitor each individual sign-up for validity. This means that someone could send out hundreds of tweets under your name, before you caught on. That’s what happened to Televangelist Robert H. Schuller, whose Twitter problem was discussed in a recent article at MSNBC.com.

From the article:

Televangelist Robert H. Schuller has reached millions worldwide with his weekly “Hour of Power” TV broadcasts, but when it comes to the Internet, he had a high-tech headache: an online impostor.

When Schuller, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral megachurch, recently tried to set up an account on the micro-blogging Web site Twitter.com, he discovered another user masquerading as himself.

Schuller’s impersonator — who remains unidentified — seemed to know a lot about that history and the preacher’s life, said Nason, the spokesman. The impostor said in his early tweets that he was Schuller’s assistant, but then went on to say he was Schuller himself and even talked about the preacher’s wife, Nason said.

“The content seemed fairly normal for someone like Dr. Schuller to say,” Fayer said. “But in the future you don’t know how they’re going to use that. What if they start asking people to send money and say, ‘Send money to X,Y,Z’?”

The rest of the article details several other prominent phony Twitter accounts including a fake Stephen Colbert and a fake Tina Fey.

While it may not seem like a big deal to some, it is important to note that Reverend Schuller is a very prominent individual with a PR staff dedicated to catching issues like this. For the average person, it could be months before a Twitter fraud is exposed. That is why it is more important than ever for individuals to take full control of their image online and be proactive in Online Reputation Management.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Michael Fertik Discusses Online Reputation Management Services with NPR

As my new book is getting ready to be released, you can’t ignore the importance of Online Reputation Services and what they can offer to all people - whether it is protecting your children online, maintaining your reputation in cyberspace or simply having a positive online image. These services are priceless and many know my story and my success with ReputationDefender. I feel I have to say, I am not their spokesperson, nor do I receive any referral fees from them, but as a victim and survivor of Internet Defamation, I can personally attest their integrity and concern for keeping you safe in space.

Source: ReputationDefender BlogRecently the CEO of ReputationDefender, Michael Fertik, was featured on NPR - take time to listen to his sound and informational advice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

ReputationDefender Blog and Face.com

If you thought that untagged photos of you on Facebook were not going to affect your online reputation, you’ve got another thing coming. According to the New York Times, a new application utilizes facial recognition software to find public, untagged photos online.

From the page:

This one is kinda scary because of how well it works. Face.com’s new Photo Finder application for Facebook helps you automatically discover public photos that you and your friends may have forgotten to tag — and it also lets you track untagged photos of your friends.

Face-recognition technology is itself not new, but Photo Finder’s twist is how it makes use of Facebook’s interface. The social network only shows you photos of yourself containing tags about you — your name and profiled, associated with you in a given photo. Up until now, untagging a photo is how you hide a photo from your Facebook friends — the other option is to use more advanced privacy settings that restrict photo viewing to specific friends, but I’m not sure how many people use that feature.

With Face.com, your friends can bypass such social engineering to directly stalk you, or visa versa as the case may be.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Sue Scheff: Taking it Offline - Face to Face

With the rise and blossoming of online networking sites like LinkedIn and ClaimID, many people, especially younger people, are doing the majority of their business networking online. This phenomenon is not anything new, and it has been covered in this blog and elsewhere.

But while it may be easier to sit in front of the computer screen and interact with your peers, it is hard to think that interpersonal relationships can ever be fully fleshed out (if you will) in the digital sphere. Face-to-face networking will never go away. The information on the Internet is not always accurate (although that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant, according to Google’s algorithms), and there is a lot to be said for looking someone in the eyes.

Today people should try to balance their “new school” digital networking with the “old school” tried and true methods. The approach will literally double the amount of chances a person has to make an impact with a potential employer, and the effort required to do so is not unreasonable (point of fact, until a few years the “old school” method was the only game in town).LinkedIn and other popular business networking sites thrive because they offer an alternative to actually speaking with a fellow networker. The information you put in the profile becomes the equivalent of a hand shake and a greeting. Thus, a user profile, for business purposes, should be looked at as an opportunity to distinguish yourself as someone others want to know and be connected to.There are small and effective steps one can take to achieve this. Focus on brevity. 100 words is enough to grab someone’s attention and establish a positive image. If done correctly, a LinkedIn profile can, for practical purposes, be the difference between just another interview and a job offer. Conversely, a poorly written profile can have you knocked out of the running before you even get started.

Many employers look at LinkedIn as a sort of research tool. A resume can only say so much about a person, and employers are always looking to find out the little bits about a potential employee that are not immediately apparent. This fact has had disastrous consequences for some people whose Facebook and MySpace profiles contain otherwise unflattering images/language/etc. We’ve blogged that story here more than once.

Online business networking profiles are still just a piece of the puzzle, though. A successful blend of the old and the new networking techniques will counteract the deficiencies inherent in both approaches. A human touch in the new digital landscape goes a long way towards maintaining awareness and crafting image, while drawing in more localized business and opening channels previously untapped.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

ReputationDefender CEO Michael Fertik Speaking At SXSW Today

Michael Fertik will be speaking at SXSW (South By SouthWest) this weekend and addressing the emerging trend of digital narcing. In the information age a variety of forces are shaping a voyeristic digital world wherein companies, individuals and governments can compile data to make more accurate decisions, for good or for ill.

Check out Michael Fertik and other panel speakers today at 5 if you are in the area.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Are you being Slimed Online?

This week my co-author, John Dozier and I, announced our exciting new book that will be released in fall 2009 from Health Communications, Inc. Then I read this article that I could really identify with. Slimed Online from Portfolio.com.

Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender, was powerful force in helping these women fight for their online image. As a client of ReputationDefender, their services are priceless - although there seems to be many of these services popping up now, as the demand grows, I feel that in my experiences, the pioneer of these online reputation management companies start with ReputatationDefender.

Our new book, Google Bomb, will be a must read for anyone and everyone that works and plays online. From protecting your online profile and reputation, to keeping your kids safe, this new book is a must have - and can potentially help you from being a victim of wicked and evil keystrokes.

Years ago gossip was limited to a geographically area that you live in. Today gossip goes viral worldwide! Your one former friend is now a foe or a few clients out of years of a reputable business have decided to take revenge via e-venge! Take cover, Google Bomb can help you protect yourself.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sue Scheff: Features Michael Fertik and ReputationDefender in her Second Book!

"GOOGLE BOMB - TAKE COVER!" by John Dozier and Sue Scheff
Do you know what Google is saying about you?

Oh yes, it is almost here, my second book! This time around, I am honored to have co-author and Internet Specialist Attorney, John Dozier .

As my story of my landmark case of $11.3M jury verdict for damages unravels - many questions answers, John Dozier will bring us the legal landscape of today's Cyber World - how to protect your online image and maintain a profile you are proud of! Have you thought about Internet Gossip vs Internet Fact? How do you know the difference? Don’t get caught in the web - read Google Bomb!

To compound our dynamic and explosive upcoming best seller - Michael Fertik, CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender will be writing the foreword! ReputationDefender is one of the pioneers in managing online reputations and helping keep your kids privacy safe online.

This timely book will offer you tools and remedies as well as a very compelling story that will keep you turning those pages! Remember, a 20 year reputation today can be destroyed within 20 minutes of vicious keystrokes.

Monkeys Don't Fly? Do they? Ahhhh, just wait and you will see - the Internet has become its' own animal. The Internet can be an educational tool - but - it can also be a lethal weapon!

Published by Health Communications Inc. (HCI) - Google Bomb will be released in Fall 2009.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lawsuit Cracks Open Online Anonymity

The Law as an Accomplice

Legal experts, however, emphasized that the law protects Web sites like Topix. Even if the comments are considered defamatory by a court of law, Topix has no legal obligation to take the content down.

Defenders of the legal landscape argue that a change could stifle open discussion and free speech. But others maintain that in stories like this, regardless of who emerges, once the veil of anonymity is lifted, it is the law itself that is a co-conspirator.
"The law as it currently stands is an accomplice because it creates no incentive whatsoever for Web sites to review or police themselves from content that is potentially devastating to real people and real lives," Michael Fertik, a lawyer who specializes in online defamation, told ABCNews.com.

Part of the problem, Fertik continued, is that laws that made sense at the birth of the Internet age have not matured. It takes years to redress online defamation problems under the present regime. But, in the meantime, libelous comments easily found through search engines can sideline both personal and professional lives.

Although privacy and free speech advocates worry that changes to the law could "chill" online speech, Fertik argued that "the law can easily catch up without destroying speech."
But until then?

"The law provides the red dye for the scarlet letter," Fertik said. "It provides the ink for the tattoo that people create on Web sites like this."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Reputation Defender Blog

Seeking Alpha recently published the Q4 Earnings Call for the financial website TheStreet.com. Despite reporting decreased ad revenues and a loss for the three month period, Thomas Clarke did identify new steps that his company was taking to strengthen revenue and brand awareness. Apart from aggressively pursuing increased advertising revenues, the Chief Executive Officer mentioned broadening available content to site readers early in the call.

Quoting from the page:
Our strategic decision a few years ago to further expand our content sets to include a fully array of personal finance information and application to complement our equity focus will continue to be foundations we build upon. With the launch of MainStreet and BankingMyWay and our relationship with Geezeo, TheStreet.com today provides users with the information they need across the entire personal finance space in one convenient network. In addition, we continue to add best of breed services such as INSWEB, ReputationDefender, and [Money Owl] to allow those interested to take action, further bolstering our performance revenue stream.

ReputationDefender CEO Michael Fertik recently wrote an article about the online reputational risks professionals, students and companies are now facing. ReputationDefender is proud to be the leader in the online reputation management space and works to mitigate reputational risk online.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Don't Let the Web Kill What You Love by Michael Fertik

By Michael Fertik

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Warren Buffett said that, before the invention of the Internet. Now, in the information age, the statement has never been more truthful. That is why I started a business, ReputationDefender, that is all about protecting reputations.

Your good name, and the reputations of your family, business, and everything you love, is valuable. So, when your neighbor, a customer, or a love interest plugs your name into a search engine, what will they find?

Anyone can come along and slam you online and if that happens, search results for your name might be dominated by negative, incomplete, or even false information. A hostile online comment might represent the uncommon experience of a dissatisfied customer or disgruntled neighbor, but due to the structure of search engines, that single opinion can be greatly amplified and made to look like a universal point of view. You might fall victim to the sniping of an anonymous blogger or even a competitor posing as an angry customer.

It’s not only easy to publish half-truths, innuendo, and falsehoods on the Internet, it’s also easy to make them stick. Many people who publish negative web content know how to make it maximally destructive. Lies, rumors, or memes take flight easily, getting repeated, added to, and generally magnified. Even though some of these narratives are discovered to be false, very few of them get debunked as loudly as they are broadcasted in the first place. As a result, false content often becomes more visible on the web than, say, well-researched articles from reputable news sources. It might seem illogical that bogus speculation can end up dominating searches for you, but that’s how a rumor mill works.

A great strength of the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice. That’s also one of its dangers: it can endow fraudsters and idle speculators with the appearance of authority.

The danger is real. This does not mean you should stop using the Internet. It means that you must proactively establish your accurate and positive presence on the web before there is a problem. You need to maximize your control over what people find about you, before someone else does it for you.

There are options. Companies have developed software solutions for online reputation protection. ReputationDefender, which is now a partner with TheStreet.com network, is my company, and we do just that.

Michael Fertik is the Founder and CEO of ReputationDefender, the online reputation management and privacy company.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Hate Websites and Teens

As someone that is familiar with hate websites/sites since I was a victim of them, they are nothing short of malicious attacks intended to hurt others. I always go back to my favorite Blog about these many types of people who seemingly take pride in harming others, The Top Ten Blogger Personas - The Mobosphere Unveiled by John Dozier. My next book, due out in fall 2009, will cover this subject in detail. Whether you are a business owner, husband, wife, teacher, professional - you need to be aware of your online presence - Internet Gossip vs Internet Fact - how do you know?

Connect with Kids offers some valuable tips for parents to help keep their kids safe in space. Unfortunately trying to keep up with the Internet can be difficult, however we need to communicate with our kids about ugliness that can lurk online.

“Hate, unfortunately – it’s a virus. There’s been racism, anti-Semitism. There’s been discrimination against people throughout the ages. The Internet just provides an instant tool and access to it.”

– Deborah Lauter, Anti-Defamation League

By some estimates, 70 million kids are logging onto the Internet every day, and many are viewing sites that are increasingly disturbing.

Jesse Granger, 15, says, “I’ve come across hate websites. There was one about the Ku Klux Klan, and it had a lot of pictures of recent parades and marches.”

Sixteen-year-old Quincy Kelly saw a web site that “was talking about how slaves should be happy that they got brought over to America from Africa.”

Deborah Lauter of the Anti-Defamation League has been monitoring these sites for years. “Hate, unfortunately – it’s a virus,” she says. “There’s been racism, anti-Semitism. There’s been discrimination against people throughout the ages. The Internet just provides an instant tool and access to it.”

It’s also a sophisticated tool, especially in terms of attracting young web surfers.

Lauter says, “Some of the [hate] websites actually have games for children. The websites are attractive visually. There are puzzles, word games – it’s pretty sick when you look at them.”
And kids don’t even have to be looking for them to inadvertently access them.

“A perfect example would be a student doing Internet research and they plug in something as simple as ‘Martin Luther King,’ which is a very typical one. And some of these racist websites will be accessed and a kid could go on and start researching and think what’s there is fact,” says Lauter.

That’s where parents come in, she says, to make sure their kids are aware.

“[Children] need to understand to look at things critically,” says Lauter. “They need to understand that not everything on the Internet or everything they read is the truth.” And as kids become more sophisticated and Internet savvy, they will learn to weed out fiction from fact.
Matthew Burnett, 14, agrees. “If you use your common sense you can see through most of it,” he says.
And 15-year-olds Kelly Raines and Rebecca Turner say, “I think that if people are going to put that on, they’re going to put that on. And it’s just a matter of whether you take it, or like, just be like, ‘that’s stupid.’ I’m not going to worry about that.”

Tips for Parents

The Internet has opened the door to a wealth of information at our fingertips. But it has also brought instant accessibility to illegal drugs, pornography, hate websites and more. It’s important to set guidelines regarding your child’s Internet usage. Consider these important steps from the University of Oklahoma police department:

Learn about the Internet – If you are just starting out, see what information and classes are offered by your local library, community center, schools or newspaper.

Get Involved – Spend time online with your child — at home, at the library or at a computer center in your community. Your involvement in your child’s life includes his/her online life. Your participation and guidance is important to help ensure your child’s Internet safety.

Stay Informed – Learn about the latest parental control tools that can help you keep your child safe online. Stay abreast of what’s in the news about kids and web sites.

Become an Advocate for Kids – If you see online material or practices you do not like, contact your Internet Service Provider (the company that provides you with a connection to the Internet) or the company that created the material. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to help this growing medium develop in positive ways for kids.

According to SafeKids.com, there are steps you can take to help prevent your child from seeing inappropriate content on the Internet. Consider the following suggestions:

In an online public area such as a chat room or bulletin board, never give out identifying information, including name, home address, school name or telephone number.

In an email, do not give out identifying information unless you are certain you are giving it to someone both you and your child know and trust. Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or unlisting your child’s name if your service allows it.

Get to know the sites and services your child uses. If you don’t know how to log on, have your child show you. Find out what types of information the services and websites offer, how trustworthy the information is and if parents can block objectionable material.

Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission.

Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service provider and ask for their assistance.
Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can’t see or even hear people over the Internet, it is easy for them to misrepresent themselves. For example, someone who says he/she is an expert in a certain field may actually be a biased individual with an agenda or someone with harmful intentions.

Not everything you read online is true. Be wary of any offers that require you to come to a meeting or have someone visit your house. Also, research several different sources of information before referring to something you read on the Internet as “fact.”

Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use. Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. Remember to monitor your kids’ compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A child’s or teenager’s excessive use of online services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may indicate a potential problem. Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used as electronic babysitters.

Make computers a family activity. Consider keeping the computer in a family room rather than the child’s bedroom. Get to know your children’s “online friends” just as you do their other friends.

Federal Bureau of Investigation
National Center for Health Statistics
Smart Parent
The Police Notebook
The University of Illinois

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sue Scheff - Prevent Cyberbullying

Vanessa Van Petten continues to bring valuable information for parents with today’s teens. This week she has dedicated to helping prevent cyberbullying.

Thank you to everyone who is already offered to join and spread the word about our anti-cyberbullying campaign here at On Teens Today:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Video Reputation Management - ReputationDefender

Do you feel the need to trust a professional service to monitor your online reputation protect your privacy, and maybe even use for civil and criminal lawsuits? ReelSEO’s Grant Crowell interviews Michael Fertik, CEO of ReputationDefender, about where automated tools are today with monitoring video online, what’s expected to improve with advances in technology, and what are some of the best ways people can go about monitoring and managing their ‘video reputation’ today.

Michael’s Bio

For some background, Michael Fertik’s company profile reads: “a repeat Internet entrepreneur and CEO with experience in technology and law. After law school, he clerked for Chief Judge Danny J. Boggs of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. In his capacity as CEO of ReputationDefender, Michael serves on the advisory board of The Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe), a non-profit that works for the health and safety of youth online.”
The following video clip features an roundtable panel discussion about online reputation management with Michael Fertik on “Digital Age” - WNYE/Ch 25 (NYC TV):

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How To Protect, Fix Your Online Reputation

Jan. 10, 2009

(CBS) Did you ever "google" yourself and find something negative?

It should worry you. Just one negative posting can cost you a job

It's estimated that more than 70 percent of employers do a Web search on job applicants as part of their hiring procedures. More than half of them admit to not bringing someone on board because of negative information they found online.

It could be something you posted years ago, or something put into cyberspace by someone you know - or even a perfect stranger.

What can you do about it?

Michael Fertik, founder of ReputationDefender.com, had some advice on The Early Show Saturday Edition.

Fertik says he started the business two years ago with one person. He now has 60 employees. His service costs about $10 a month.

Fertik told substitute co-anchor Seth Doane that safeguarding your online reputation is “as important as your credit score nowadays. Every life transaction that you have, whether you’re looking for a job, you’re looking for romance, you’re looking for a friend - people are gonna look you up on the Web and make conclusions based on what they find.

"One random, idiosyncratic piece of content about you on the Web could dominate your Google results forever," he said. "It's such an issue: It affects people who are undeserving, people who are sort of using bad judgment, all kinds of different people."

What's worse, legal recourse is murky at best, Fertik observed, saying, "The law hasn't caught up yet with privacy. The Internet has really changed the privacy landscape in a big way and the law hasn't yet caught up with it. It's lagging behind, so far."

Fertik stressed that, "You have to be on top of your (online) reputation. It's not about narcissism. It’s about your personal brand. Especially in a down economy, people are looking you up, they’re making decisions. They're denying you a job unless they find something really good about you on the Web."

He had three key pieces of advice:

First, never let anyone set up your reputation online. Establish yourself online to create a clear and positive image of you. Don't wait for someone else to destroy it. Use what he calls "Google insurance": Create a profile on something like Facebook that's positive and tasteful. Claim the real estate on your name. What is said about you on the Web isn't a function of you living a righteous life: Anyone can say something bad about you. "Write your own history," he recommended.

Second, if there's a problem with your online reputation, you have to find it. Constantly monitor the Web. Search for full names, usernames, etc. Be on top of the game. Go deep into the Internet to Web sites that aren't indexed by Google: "The deep Web - Facebook, MySpace, the pages where the content really starts to generate and become problematic."

"Monitor yourself assiduously," Fertik told Doane.

Third: The longer it's there, the more it spreads and can be archived. If you see a problem, deal with it quickly. Get in touch with people and tell them to stop, in a kind and thoughtful way, without getting a lawyer involved right away. Reach them on a human level. If you want professional help, companies such as ReputationDefender are available. As Fertik told Doane, "Nip it in the bud before it spreads and gets mirrored and replicated. If you can't do it, you want to hire the pros."

If you do find something bad about yourself, how do you get it offline?
"Sometimes," Fertik responded to Doane, "what we do is, we overwhelm the 'bad' with good to make sure that when people look you up, they see what you want them to see, they see your good videos, not necessarily the (bad ones)."