Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sue Scheff: 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

Sue Scheff: ReputationDefender and iKeepSafe Provide Online Reputation Resources to Guidance Counselors

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 ( 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 ReputationDefender on Twitter at @RepDef

Thursday, June 25, 2009

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

By: Chip Dizard
Go to Chip's Home Page

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. 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, May 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: ReputationDefender Blog Article

Source: ReputationDefender Blog

By Michael Fertik

Old and New Information Wanting to Be Free

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).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Facebook, MySpace, Social Networking 101

Source: Toronto Sun

More like Casebook
Social networking sites can sometimes make or break a case in court


Be careful what you post on Facebook or MySpace, because anything you say or upload can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Last year, for example, an Ottawa court heard that a civil servant had started a clandestine affair with an old friend she reconnected with through Facebook during a messy custody battle involving three kids.

In a Vancouver courtroom last month, defendants in a personal injury case produced photos from the plaintiff's Facebook profile showing that while Myla Bagasbas was seeking $40,000 in damages for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment after a car accident, she was still able to kayak, hike and bike post-accident.

"Facebook will be seen as a gold mine for evidence in court cases," said Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in ethics, law and technology at the University of Ottawa.

But it will also challenge the courts to further define the notion of personal privacy. In a precedent-setting case this year, a Toronto judge ordered that a man suing for physical injury in a car accident be cross-examined on the contents of his private Facebook profile. Justice David Brown of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice overturned a previous court decision that called the defendant's request to look for incriminating evidence a "fishing expedition."

The very nature of Facebook is to share personal information with others, Brown wrote, and is likely to contain relevant information about how the plaintiff, John Leduc, had led his life since the accident. But if Leduc's profile is private with restricted access, is that considered an invasion of privacy?

"The courts sometimes don't get it," Kerr said. "The tendency in judicial opinion and popular thinking is that once something is out in the public, there's no such thing as privacy anymore. But that can't be right because we all have curtains."

For Facebook users, those curtains are our privacy settings. If our home is our castle, Facebook should also be considered a walled domain, Kerr said.

For example, while a member may post pictures from a beer bash the night before, that doesn't mean they would take the same pictures to show off to their boss the next day, Kerr explained.

Likewise, in Murphy versus Perger, a judge ordered that the plaintiff, who was suing for claims of personal injury and loss of enjoyment of life after a car accident, produce copies of her Facebook pages showing photos of her engaging in social activities. In her judgment, Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Rady wrote "The plaintiff could not have a serious expectation of privacy given that 366 people have been granted access to the private site."

But having 366 Facebook friends doesn't entitle the rest of the world to view personal information meant only for certain eyes, said Avner Levin, director of the Privacy Institute at Toronto's Ryerson University.

"It's not how many people you share it with, it's who you choose to share the information with," Levin said. "The judge is missing the point. What's important is not how many people are your friends, but who you choose to know you."

While we're able to compartmentalize and separate people in our lives offline by assigning titles to different spheres -- co-workers, neighbours, family -- the online world fails to recognize those distinctions, he added.

It's a habit that spills over in the job hunt as well. Employers admit they rely heavily on information they glean about a candidate from Google searches and networking profile pages. But it's an unfair screening process, Levin said, and attaches more value to people's online identities -- and sometimes third-party information -- than the candidate they meet in real life.

"We need to suppress that tendency to go on Google and look people up. There's already a process of hiring that works for them and has been working for years," Levin said.

While we're more likely to trust a direct source and treat gossip with skepticism in the offline world, the same can't be said of online information.

Pruning online identities and putting a person's best cyber-foot forward are services offered by companies such as DefendMyName, a personal PR service which posts positive information about a client and pushes down negative links in Google. ReputationDefender also destroys libelous, private or outdated content.

"A resume is no longer what you send to your employer," said ReputationDefender CEO Michael Fertik. "More people look at Google as a resume."

But instead of authenticating information found online, people are trusting secondary material and treating Google like God.

"What happens is in a court of law, you have to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. On the Internet though, many decisions are based on lower standards," Fertik said.

But is sanitizing a person's online reputation of unflattering content an infringement of freedom of speech and freedom of expression?

"Only if you believe Google is the best and most accurate source of information," Fertik said. "But I don't think Google is God. I believe Google is a machine."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ReputationDefender CEO and Founder - Michael Fertik - Featured in Upcoming New Best Seller - Google Bomb Book

Pre-Order Google Bomb on 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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ReputationDefender Blog: 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.