Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is Online Reputation Dead?

On Sunday, online reputation became the subject of a big debate on the Internet following a blog posted by Mike Arrington on TechCrunch (http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/28/reputation-is-dead-its-time-to-overlook-our-indiscretions/). The basic argument is that, after privacy, reputation is dead so we should get along with it and adjust our behavior because our legal system allows it. This argument spurred a multitude of responses on other blogs such this thoughtful response from Fred Wilson (http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2010/03/how-to-defend-your-reputation.html), in which he mentions another blog post that I also found quite interesting (http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2010/02/own-your-online-brand.html).

What I find scary about the trend highlighted by Mike Arrington is the potential impact that this behavior may have in terms of lack of creativity and a drive to compliance. According to Mike Arrington, the threat to our reputation will come from people who are close to us, members of our families, friends, or people we end up meeting at a party. If we follow his advice, nothing we will try will be hidden and our level of intimacy will be reduced to very little if any, which is to me even worse than losing reputation. If there is no intimacy anymore, people will be far more worried about trying new things. If we can’t experiment anymore including being drunk with friends without facing the risk of having an indelible black mark on the Internet, we just won’t try anymore or enough and if we don’t try, our personal development will suffer.

I don’t buy the fact that people will learn not to care. This is wishful thinking at best. In a competitive world, recruiters will choose the safer choice and the person with the drunk picture will be disadvantaged.
If we don’t have intimacy and we are faced with the pressure to comply, this is starting to look like a very Orwellian world with the crowd as Big Brother. Scary!!!

On my side, I see more people self regulating them, hence those type of businesses being short lived. And if they don’t, I am hoping that regulators will chime in to adjust the legal system to make this world a better place.

Spoke has an active role to play here and offers a unique opportunity for many people to have another chance to manage their reputation by controlling a page showing up on the first pages of Google. This is not easy to do and has been obtained over time and because of the sheer size of pages we manage. The majority of our members understand it as the ratio between people who are maintaining their profile public versus people who want to remove is 9 to 1. Still, we are very adamant about doing the right thing and offer people to remove them when they want to on a self service basis. On our next blog, we will show some interesting examples of Spoke profile.

Philippe Cases


  1. Online reputation is dead when someone uses your service to claim they work for madpixl.com and they don't. (Never heard of Isabella Jacobs), yet listed here as an employee of my company.

  2. Hi Tom, I agree with your point but this is not what happened. In this case, the person is associated with a madpix.com email. We are checking to see what happened as it may a case of our algorithm not being efficient.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Philippe, stop pretending that you work for a legitimate company. Any organization that aggregates and publishes people’s personal information without gaining consent is an organization devoid of integrity.

    Who the hell do you guys think you’re fooling, anyway? What kind of bullshit business model are you running on? You want to succeed? Then why don’t you recognize the fact that your company has generated a massive amount of badwill, and do something to resolve the massive stream of complaints being hurled your way?

    I never asked to be listed on your poor excuse for a website, and yet I have been unable to take my profile down after numerous requests. It’s irritating, and it’s just plain immoral. The worst part is nobody in your company has the balls to answer the phone. Fuck Spoke.com.

  6. We are now in a world where are virtual lives are so interwined with reality there will soon no longer be any boundaries. There is no hiding and with the legal system moving forward about as fast as evolution there is little you can do to fight back. Could we become a self regulating society?