MSNBC’s Red Tape Chronicles has an entry titled Companies’ Online Reputations Scrubbed Clean, which discusses a company that will cleanse your reputation by pushing negative stories lower in the ratings. A Google spokesman indicates this is perfectly fine with them, as long as you don’t use spammy techniques to do so.
This reminded me of an earlier incident in which another company, ReputationDefender, tried to get a piece of information removed about Cheri Yecke, a candidate for a job in Florida’s Department of Education. I discussed this one here. In that case it appeared that the company simply intended to challenge the information in the hopes that it would be removed simply because of the possibility of action.
What I would suggest is that there is nothing wrong with this type of action. It is just as possible for negative information to be posted on the web that is malicious as it is for there to be false advertising. Consumers can, unfortunately, get angry with a company that is simply trying to get on with business. Negative information doesn’t have some kind of privilege in the world of information.
This sort of activity has gone on for a long time, but with the internet it is not only easier to accomplish–both positively and negatively–it is much easier to trace. Suddenly we see the shadowy underside of the advertising war.