At the end of December, I reported at Search Engine Land on what what seems to have been a major change in Google’s internal policy. (See: Paradigm shift: Has Google suspended defamation removals?) Google has effectively begun to decline requests to remove defamation from its web search results, although it has been honoring those takedown requests for many years now, when accompanied by properly-executed court orders.
While I phrased the title of that article “Has Google…” and ended with a question mark, the reality is that the company has completely stopped removing URLs for defamation. The Search Engine Land editors and I opted for that interrogative title phrasing because Google declined to make any official statement about the matter. This lack of transparency around this has created a lot of consternation among attorneys who deal with online defamation, along with their clients — I polled a number of attorneys across the country and consistently found they had all encountered a change in their dealings with Google in the past few months. It seems that some stuff that was already being processed prior to Google’s apparent policy change may still be acted upon, but most new requests are getting denied with no reason provided. Read the rest of this entry »
Issues involving the application of trademark laws relative to online media content have been present since the beginning of the internet. However, the legal ramifications of how trademark infringement may be evaluated and litigated have evolved over time, and company executives and internet marketers may be unaware of the options and risks involved with their online activities.
Those educated in the basics of business law are aware that infringing upon a company’s marks may open one up to liabilities, if a claim of trademark infringement is made. However, if traditional online marketing activities are also involved in a trademark dispute, there is now significant potential that damages could become multiplied. Combining Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) and/or online advertising — such as Pay-Per-Click ads (“PPC”) — with occurrences of trademark infringement, may increase the instances of “misimpressions”, which are individual exposures of a company’s marks used in an improper context. Total numbers of misimpressions may be accounted by courts in determining the degree of infringement, and used as a basis for calculating damages to be awarded to a plaintiff.
Chris Silver Smith, a frequent legal expert witness and experienced online marketing consultant, will bring valuable insights to these topics, based upon his experiences in working on “PODS Enterprises, Inc. v. U-Haul International, Inc.”, a landmark federal trademark infringement lawsuit (see “U-Haul Boxed In With $60M Verdict In PODS Trademark Suit“). Read the rest of this entry »
A year ago, I stated that the Ashley Madison hacking scandal was not over, and that is proven yet again. A member of the Electoral College has now had his reputation attacked online using details from the Ashley Madison data and other apparent details from his life, because he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times declaring his intention to not cast his vote for Donald Trump for president.
The Texas elector in question, Christopher Suprun, wrote a piece on December 5th, “Why I Will Not Cast My Electoral Vote for Donald Trump“, where he described how he had decided not to cast his Electoral College vote for Trump based on his principles. An elector that opts not to vote for the presidential or vice-presidential candidate for which he or she has pledged to vote is called a “faithless elector”, and is something of a rarity. Since the beginning of the United States, there have only been about 179 faithless electors out of over 20,000 total electors — so, less than 1% of electors have ever turned rogue.
Following Suprun’s published intention to not cast his electoral vote as pledged, there was a lot of online recriminations against him. He’s been insulted, castigated and threatened. But, perhaps even more harmfully, Suprun has now been targeted by the conservative-leaning yellow press site, GotNews.com, which is the brain-child of Charles C. Johnson, who was declared by Gawker to be “The Web’s Worst Journalist“.
On December 12th, Got News published a tawdry slam-piece that claims that Christopher Suprun was Read the rest of this entry »
In my recent article, I predicted that the worst was far from over for Ashley Madison users whose personal information was exposed by the massive hacking. Indeed, our research has now uncovered that over 500 domain names have been registered, indicating that the next stage of this reputation apocalypse is about to happen.
“It has never been easier to create smear campaigns and publish defamatory content online – and the impact of such campaigns on individuals can be huge. Chris Silver Smith discusses the challenges the industry faces to reduce this, the responsibility of search engines and social networks to remove content and how individuals can help to protect themselves.” Read the rest of this entry »
As part of the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, Chris Silver Smith, Argent Media CEO, will be speaking at the Local Search Advantage Workshop on June 4, 2015.
The Local Search Advantage Workshop provides a deep dive into many of the primary aspects of local marketing, covering all of the topics necessary for local businesses to be found online by buyers when they’re looking to purchase.
Chris Silver Smith will be presenting a session titled “(Re)Building Your Online Reputation” which will cover: Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been very excited that Search Engine Land‘s editors have recently allowed me to start a new column series dedicated to Online Relationship Management, which will be published on their sister site, Marketing Land! My first article for it, “9 Key Points for Cleaning Up Your Online Reputation Nightmare Via SEO“, appeared a few weeks ago. In that article, I tried to provide some basic steps for people who wish to try the do-it-yourself approach, or for agencies less familiar with this type of work.
I’ve worked at various aspects of Online Reputation Management (“ORM”) for a number of years now, as a sideline of Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”). This has involved a whole range of aspects of ORM — from handling local business reviews, fighting RipOff Report pages, removing lies and defamation from Wikipedia, and helping clients to deploy websites and social media accounts to counter and displace negative materials that damage their reputations.
I’m fascinated by the human stories involved with ORM work — it’s highly compelling to me because it has such a big impact upon people’s lives, compared to the mere jockeying to attain high rankings for commercial keyword phrases. To a large degree in the interactive world of today, your name is equivalent to your identity. You don’t realize just how much your online identity is central to your relationships and success in the real world until it becomes damaged — the perceptions created by the materials that appear when your name is searched in Google, Bing and other search engines is nearly inseparable in people’s minds from your actual identity.
I’m compelled to work in this area by the human stories and how much my work can help people so directly. I have come to know so many things through the various cases I’ve worked upon — fascinating stories about what often happens behind-the-scenes to what you see in the shallow surface you see represented in the search results. Read the rest of this entry »
One melodrama I see played out time and again is caused by the disconnect between an individual’s desires for data privacy, and the need for good, proactive online reputation management. Many well-educated people think that by not having much about themselves on the internet, they’re protecting themselves and their families. They’re both wrong and right.
It’s absolutely true that you don’t want to have your data spread across the public internet, willy-nilly. You don’t want people to readily find your home address, your phone number, your birth date, and many other details, such as where you will (or won’t) be at certain times and dates. You don’t want to make it easy to be victimized — limiting data sharing can keep your identity from being stolen, your bank account logins compromised, and your home from being burglarized while you are away.
Unfortunately, people equate good data security practices with not having Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, or personal websites and other social media accounts. Even the desire to avoid having digital copies of your photograph on the internet may fit into this category of misguided concerns.
This extreme avoidance of having any presence at all on the internet creates a big fat hole in one’s online reputations. Nature abhors a void and seeks to fill it, and the internet is no exception. Read the rest of this entry »
I discovered last year that a few online reputation agencies are partners-with or owners-of the very reputation-damaging sites that their clients seek their help in addressing. Perhaps the worst of these types of sites are “revenge-porn” sites that encourage individuals with no ethics to supply nude photos of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends for the purpose of embarrassing them and damaging their reputations.
There are other sites that similarly focus on promoting materials that damage individuals’ reputations in addition to revenge porn — mugshots sites, arrest records sites, and tawdrier business review sites — and, these types of sites frequently are reliant upon thinly-veiled extortion demands. Essentially, the focus on obtaining defaming content and rendering it highly-visible through search engine results, and then they require people to pay them to take it down or modify it to be less-damaging..
A number of us who work in online reputation management (“ORM”) have sought to apply pressure to remove these sites’ ability to make money. These efforts have made a little impact, here and there. Some credit card companies have taken the step of refusing to allow merchant services for these companies, because they recognize that they’re highly distasteful. I suspect that there may have also been higher percentages of charge-backs on transactions as well. But, due to the rising barriers to the reputation attack sites, some have come up with schemes to dupe consumers into thinking they’re paying others to get the negative materials cleaned-up. Read the rest of this entry »
Argent Media founder, Chris Silver Smith, will be speaking next week at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle on the panel, “Keywords on ‘Roids: Advanced Workarounds For Vanishing Keyword Data“, along with industry veterans Christine Churchill (KeyRelevance) and Rae Hoffman (PushFire).
As all search engine marketers are aware, Google has steadily reduced the keyword referral data available to webmasters. This sea-change, purportedly for the sake of improving end users’ privacy, has been a challenge to search engine optimization experts. SEO historically relied heavily upon this data to help in ascertaining whether optimization efforts had been fruitful, as well as in the process for discovering potential new keyword phrases that consumers are using to find content featured on the website. Google has altered the dynamic for Pay-Per-Click keyword analysis as well in 2014 by encrypting the keywords in URLs, rendering web analytic systems that are competitors to Google Analytics and Google AdWords unable to track the search query referral data (albeit the impact for paid search data is less, since you may still obtain referral information from your AdWords account, and from analytic systems that may obtain the data through the AdWords account API). Analytics systems may not display the keyword referral data as “Not Provided” or “Not Set”. Read the rest of this entry »
Chris will likely be discussing the use of videos and video sharing services such as YouTube for the purposes of optimizing businesses for local search rankings. There may also be some discussion around methods for optimizations in video search and other related topics.
The show will be accessible via streamed online, and afterwards as a podcast through Blog Talk Radio.
Listeners may call in live to speak with the host during the show at (818) 369-1423.