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Online Reputation Protection Racket

"Nice service-based business you got here. Be a pity if somethin' were to happen to it."
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Service-based industries, like contractors and doctors, rely heavily on good reviews for business success, and as such, there are online reputation investigation / defense services now. I'm rather curious as to the difference between these and the mob's heavy-handed 'protection' racket, and what legal protections are in place for the targeting of a business' online reputation as a result of not paying the extortion price.

File under Public: Evil, if there were such a category.

RayfordSteele, Jul 22 2011

Like this http://news.ycombin...com/item?id=2836307
I was just reading this today. A discussion about someone who may have been trying to do this. [caspian, Aug 02 2011]

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       Actually, you bring up a good point: My father is a veterinarian who has practiced in this state for over 30 years, has literally tens of thousands of loyal clients, and who constantly receives praise from pet owners both first-hand and second-hand through me and other family members. Yet the listing on Angie's List for one of his two practices has seven reviews, three from long-time clients who give him top ratings, and four from people who had some kind of problem with his practice and decided to air their complaints on a public forum. Three of the four detractors signed their posts with pseudonyms, and the one that used his real name never said word one about his issue to my father in person.   

       I think people are far more likely to get their noses out of joint and blab about it on the Internet than the are to post positive, complimentary views. Forget an organized smear campaign with the goal of extortion, there should be some kind of self-regulation on these sites to see that businesses get a fair shake.   

       I know, free speech blah blah blah...   

       For the record, the negative reviews don't seem to have made an impact. Everyone loves my Dad.
Alterother, Jul 22 2011
  

       Did your dad hear the one about the guy who served for Germany in WWII? He was a veteran Aryan.
rcarty, Jul 23 2011
  
      
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