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Cyber Defamation By Don Troiano 8-29-2017

The Birth of the internet                                                                                                                                                                                   

               As we entered the new millennium a new media was beginning to take off called the internet. This was a new medium that allows millions and hundreds of millions of computers to share data instantly. Early on this new form of communication was slow to get going and only available at a very high cost. As we entered the new millennium the cost of both computers and access had reached a point where it became accusable to the masses.  Beginning about 1997 many new companies began sprouting up that are household names like Amazon.comebay.com and Yahoo.com. Investors began scrambling to both understand and take part in this new media, but there was no bench mark to measure a company launching into this uncharted area. Yahoo was valued at 3 Billion dollars by Wall Street before the company even launched formal operations.  This was the dawn of the dot com boom. Market indexes saw record growth over the next few years and money was flowing in to every new idea for internet marketing.  Reality soon set in as many of the new companies that had launched where dependent on each other for success or failure and within a few years the dot com boom became the dot com bust.  I myself had only began learning about the internet starting in 1996 as I obtained my first computer  and after some trial and error made it internet ready. At the time most people used dial up modems and the internet was very slow and pretty much only accusable through a dial up account with America Online. Over time cable modems and DSL became affordable and the internet became as common in a household as a telephone and electricity.

The Birth of the Search engine

                By 1998 a new search engine was launching called Google. At the time most knew very little about the company as users where just beginning to learn how to use a search engine and those that did pretty much used yahoo. Soon Google was beginning to replace the home page of many computers  due to ease of use and accuracy. Before long if a user wanted to know about almost anything it became very easy to just “Google it”.  Now in an instant a user could find a company, answer to a question, personal information and the list goes on and on. Now for companies both established and new the new word of the day became SEO or search engine optimization. The art of having your web site appear at the top of a search for a given key word. If a company is selling a product and someone is searching that product it is always best to be at the top of that search as most people will only look through one or two pages. The big problem again as was with the internet is a lack of competent professionals who truly understand SEO.  Companies like Google and Yahoo closely guard the information that their search engines use to rank companies to protect the integrity of their searches. That said as with any multi billion dollar business many of the key factors that go in to SEO have become known and as with any multi billion dollar industry that information has been used and misused for profits. Today a company or persons Google search is a kin to their credit report. It is a quick and easy way to find out anything about any company or person.

The Communications Decency act

                Before 1996 web sites where held accountable for information published on their web site much like a printed news paper or television media out let are still held responsible for content produced by their given medium. In 1996 congress passed the first attempt to regulate pornographic material on the internet . From that came the Communications decency Act of 1996. The second section230  of the act ahs been interpreted to say an operator of internet service are not to be considered publishers and therefore not  liable for content of third parties who use their service.  Essentially this opened the door for any web site that allowed unedited posts an their web site freedom from litigation for defamation, liable or slander.

The Birth of the Consumer Review Web Site

                For consumers there has always been a feeling of helplessness when a product or service failed to deliver as advertised. There has always been the better business bureau and the attorney general.  But as long as a transaction was not fraudulent there was little a consumer could do without the cost and risk of litigation. Now that the way had been cleared avoiding defamation and liable liability a new type of web site began to emerge. The consumer review web site was born with a site posted by the better business bureau (BBB). On the BBB web site consumers can post complaints and reviews and If a review is negative a company can resolve the issue and thus remove the complaint. Then a host of other sites began to pop up. Rip off Report, Complaints Board and the list goes on and on. Using these sites a consumer or anyone can complain, slander or defame a company, person, government or entity they care to post about without fear of litigation due to the relative anonymity of the internet.  Early on this was more of a nuisance then anything, but as consumers and others began to Google everything this has become a major problem for businesses, doctors, lawyers and just plain citizens who may have an enemy.  Today armed with the knowledge of SEO the providers of these sites have the ability to make a post regarding any entity appear at the top of the entities search results. With this ability these sites have developed a simple business model. Charge the entity very high prices to remove or redact this information even if false or inflammatory.

The Birth of the Cyber Defamation

                With the advent of the new consumer complaint site and the relative anonymity of the internet the way was cleared for the cyber defamer.  Using these sites anyone can defame any one or any company and have that information appear at the top of the entities Google, Yahoo or Bing search results.  For the corporate world this is a quick safe and inexpensive way to create negative content for a competitor. For the world of a cyber stalker this is a quick safe and inexpensive way to stalk and defame anyone they may dislike and want to harm. Many of the review sites that post this information actually encourage the content to be negative and inflammatory as possible. Clearly the more inflammatory the content is the more motivated the object of the attack will be to have it removed thus creating huge profits for the web sites posting this information. Today someone can go on one of these sites and post for instance company X that provides food services poisoned someone and even caused a death can not only hurt company X, but can literally put them out of business. For the victim of cyber stalking the result can be even worse. A victim can be denied jobs, promotions, housing, financing, romance and even education.

The Birth of Reputation Repair

                As cyber defamation became a bigger problem for companies and people a new industry began to evolve reputation repair. The idea behind these companies is they can help not by removing negative content, but to move it down the search engine results so it appears on page 3, 4 or later in a search result. These companies use their SEO knowledge to post positive content that will appear high on a search result. The cost is usually several thousand dollars and then a monthly fee to keep negative content  pages deep in a search result.  These companies have had mixed results but in the cases where there is extreme motivation on the part of the cyber defamer as in the corporate space or cyber stalker world it is usually only a short term fix.

The Birth of Corporate Reputation Defense Divisions

                Today many large corporations have entire divisions dedicated to defending their on line reputation. Corporations are dedicating millions to protecting their reputation because the stakes today are very high.  All one has to do is Google any major corporation and you will see URL after URL owned by the corporation at the top of search results. Many corporations pay high prices to web pages that post only positive content about their company and appear very high on search results. Today there are multi billion dollar companies whose only business is dedicated to positive content postings.  It has literally become a game of cat and mouse and for now the major corporations are winning because of amount of money they have to spend on the problem. The losers in this game have become the individual and smaller business.  Lack of resources has left those without the means to play in this multi million dollar game on the short end of the stick. Lack of laws has allowed the attacker the ability to not only survive but thrive.

What Can a Victim of Cyber Defamation Do

                Unfortunately once the attack has started a victim will have his work cut out for them. It is always best to start your reputation repair long before you are attacked. First and foremost do not reply on the offending site. This will actually make the ranking stronger in search results. Second start posting positive content under your and/or your companies name. The content should be about you, your company and your industry. Make sure the content includes your name and your companies name several times, but not too many times. This will actually lower your ranking.  Second within the positive content include links with you or your companies name as the link. Do not type out the URL as the link. Web crawlers will not recognize this. The reason you are incliding links from each post is it will actually raise each posts rankings within the search results. The more pages with links pointing to a page the stronger the search engine results. Do not post to many links on a page because they will tend to get lost. Several links at the bottom like your name information, your name news and your name blog are usually enough. Third purchase URLs with your or your company name. It is cheap and will always appear at the top of your search. Purchase dot com, dot net, dot org and whatever else may be available under your name. Post positive content to these pages and be sure to include the links we mentioned above from site to site to keep search results strong fourth post to other free sties make sure your username and post name include your and/or your company’s name. Fifth  be sure to post to web sites with high search rankings. I have found them to be the following:

Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Trulia,  Zoomshare, WordPress, Blogger, Peoplespond, Betternetworker, Professionalontheweb, Merchantcircle, Youtube, Yelp, TIG blog, Manta, Googleplus, dashberlinworld, Blackplanet, Wetpaint, Mylife, Bogsight, Fastcompany, Experienceproject, Devreviews, Blogetry, Vimoe, Quora, Articlebase, Myspace, Angieslist, Glassdoor, Lookuppage,  Ziggs, Ziki, Emurse,  Freepresbox, Mutiply, docstoc, Scribd, Articlebase, Yahoo, Myfamily, Aboutme. Pagebuilder, hicow, Tumblr, Splinder, Flickr and Blogher.

There are many more and they are all free. It will take some time to sign up for all these sites, but it is still cheaper then paying someone thousands of dollars to do it for you. Sixth add Goggle search and addwords to as many of these sites as possible. They will be recognized faster by the web crawler if you do this and you can make some money if you have good content. People actually make several hundreds of dollars per month just off the addwords on their web sites. And last lear everything you can about SEO. There are hundreds of articles on the web about SEO. It is important that you learn everything you can about how it works before posting so you do not make mistakes early on as I did. That is all for now. Good luck and I hope this information has been helpful.

To Contact the Author: dtroiano@dontroiano.com