Ronnie Segev & ReputationDefender Can Eat A Dick

ReputationDefender has asked us to remove or “alter” one of the articles in our archive. They wrote us a very long and nice letter. Our emailed response was this: No.


The article ReputationDefender wanted us to remove concerned , a concert pianist jailed for harassment after he called Priceline.com 215 times to get a refund for a $953 ticket he never purchased. At the time, the NY POST reported:

    "A judge later dismissed the charges, but not before spent 40 hours in a Manhattan holding cell with hardened criminals who laughed at him, threatened him and tried to steal his fancy watch and sneakers.

    A tough-looking cellmate asked him, "So, what are you in for?"

    "Priceline refund," the musician sheepishly replied. It went downhill from there."

Hm, we can see how he might find that, "outdated and disturbing," and removing it might, "go a long way to help make the Internet a more civil place," as the letter states.

Perhaps he should try doing more interesting and newsworthy things that would push down his Priceline story in the Google rankings. Something more newsworthy than hiring a firm to finagle internet censorship and information blackouts.

Full letter, inside...



ReputationDefender writes:

    "ReputationDefender, Inc.
    2023 Cherokee Parkway
    Suite #18
    Louisville, KY 40204

    January 10, 2007

    Dear Mr. Popken,

    We are writing to you in behalf of . He has asked us to contact you and see if you will consider removing the content about him at:

    http://www.consumerist.com/consumer/evil/priceline-has-customer-arrested-for-diligent-refund-attempt-150618.php

    Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are ReputationDefender, Inc., a company dedicated to helping our clients preserve their good name on the Internet. Our founders and employees are all regular Internet users. Like our clients, and perhaps like you, we think the Internet is sometimes unnecessarily hurtful to the privacy and reputations of everyday people. Even content that is meant to be informative can sometimes have a significant and negative impact on someone's job prospects, student applications, and personal life. We invite you to learn more about who we are, at http://www.reputationdefender.com.

    When our clients sign up with our service, we undertake deep research about them on the Internet to see what the Web is saying about them. We find sites where they are discussed, and we ask our clients how they feel about those sites. Sometimes our clients express strong reservations about the content on particular websites. They may feel hurt, ashamed, or "invaded" by the content about them on those sites.

    As you may know, more and more prospective employers, universities, and newfound friends and romantic interests undertake Internet research, and the material they find can strongly impact their impressions of the people they are getting to know. When people apply for jobs, apply for college or graduate school, apply for loans, begin dating, or seek to do any number of other things with their lives, hurtful content about them on the Internet can have a negative impact on their opportunities. At some point or another, most of us say things about ourselves or our friends and acquaintances we later regret. We're all human, and we all do it!

    We are writing to you today because our client, , has told us that he would like the content about him on your website to be removed as it is outdated and disturbing to him. Would you be willing to remove or alter the content? It would mean so much to , and to us. Considerate actions such as these will go a long way to help make the Internet a more civil place.

    Thank you very much for your consideration. We are mindful that matters like these can be sensitive. We appreciate your time.

    Please let us know if you have removed or changed the content on this site by sending an e-mail to: daves@reputationdefender.com.



    Yours sincerely,

    Dave S.

    Reputation Defender Service Team"

Wonder if Gothamist and Dvorak received similar letters?

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Tim Matheson says:

    You know what they say no press is bad press. If this guy wants to get back at Priceline.com he should condone any press coverage he can get. The more people who talk about it the more Priceline.com will suffer. Did this guy really think 215 phone calls would make them say “Oh sorry Ronnie, our bad, we will get right on that refund.”? Catch bees with honey not vinegar Ronnie. Somebody get this guy some cheese to go with that wine or maybe some french cries, or a whineken lol. I am glad to see consumerist.com standing their ground on the content removal issue.

  2. comedian says:

    I received the same letter for my post about the same arrest.

    I don’t cotton with trying to make things like this go down the memory hole.

    I wonder if they have the balls to send such requests to Lexis/Nexis?

  3. pete says:

    You think Segev will now call Reputation Defender 215 times for a refund?

    oops wait a second – they don’t have a phone number.

  4. weave says:

    A friend of mine used to post quite pointed gay-bashing threads on usenet newsgroups back around 1990. That was before Google started archiving them (how did they go back in time? They obtained someone’s old backup tapes and restored them).

    This was back when the Internet was still a research, non-commercial system where people regularly would post and use their real names.

    He’s been trying for ages to clean up his name since he’s matured since then and is not a homophone anymore.

    He got Google to remove his posts, but the posts that referred to his and quoted his material, they would not remove. There are also other websites that refer to the posts as well, with copies.

    What I advised him to do was to basically start posting helpful technical posts, create web pages with his name in them and basically make the bad stuff get drowned out in all of the good stuff.

    This has worked remarkably well and now you really have to dig through pages and pages of search results to find the crap.

  5. > he’s matured since then and is not a homophone anymore.

    So, what, he’s spelled differently now?

    Thank you,thank you. I’ll be here all week.

    More importantly: I don’t have time right now to update Ronnie/Ronen’s Wikipedia entry with a pithy paragraph about his compounded dickishness, but I’m sure one of you other kids does.

  6. Pittsburghsteamer says:

    I called Verizon 215 times when my homophone quit working. It didn’t make the web. Better luck next time.

  7. Mike_ says:

    Somehow, I don’t think you thought your cunning plan all the way through.

  8. Pelagius says:

    I always wondered what Corky got up to after “Life Goes On” was cancelled.

  9. battlerobo says:

    I don’t understand how a company like Reputation Defender is supposed to succeed. They have no control over blogs and pretty much the whole series of tubes we call the Internet. I admit, I am a bit swayed by their very polite and nice letter that is ASKING (not demanding) you to remove a post, so I can’t really be angry with them at this point. At least they tried, like many of us who wanted that “refund.”

  10. TinaT says:

    A little off-topic, but perhaps this post title is contributing to Consumerist being blocked as a pr0n site.

  11. MeOhMy says:

    I gotta hand it to them – at least they start by asking nicely instead of sending a C&D letter full of incomprehensible legalese. I’m sure that’s coming soon, but at least they start out nice.

  12. Ben Popken says:

    Gawker is not listed as a SonicWALL pr0n site and they use “twatwaffle” and “fuck” in their titles.

  13. battlerobo says:

    hehe… twatwaffle. That sounds like a tasty meal.

  14. battlerobo says:
  15. JT says:

    This might be a stretch. Priceline may have somehow woven this article into part of its defense against Segev’s lawsuit vs. Priceline. maybe even part of a counter suit.

    Anyone know how that is going?

  16. I’ve always liked the phrase, “Eat a bag of dicks.”

  17. I love how they spend most of letter talking about themselves.

    Although they were polite and explain why, in general, they do what they do, this:

    We are writing to you today because our client, Ronnie Segev, has told us that he would like the content about him on your website to be removed as it is outdated and disturbing to him.

    Simply isn’t a good reason to remove anything.

    1) Information is not outdated until it stops being true. The fact that they sent police after a guy just trying to get a refund is still true so the story is not outdated.

    2) There’s plenty of stuff on the Internet that’s disturbing and none of it is getting deleted. Besides, the only reason it’s “disturbing” to their client is that people can find out what they did; not because they are upset about what happened.

  18. Treved says:

    I’ve just started reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I’m using any of it, but he has a whole chapter on how to write a letter like this. And these people personified his examples of what NOT to do.

    Talking about themselves, and how great they are, and then asking for the content to be taken down without giving a single reason why it is in Consumerists interests to do so? How on EARTH did they think this was going to succeed?

  19. Chris says:

    It’s just me, but the whole “eat a d*ick” headline seems needless. Hell, in the text of the post, Ben admits that the ReputationDefender letter was nice, polite, etc.

    I doubt that “eat a d*ick” was his direct response to them, so why punish a polite, professional (if futile) request with a headline that would get you knocked out if you said it to someone’s face?

  20. spanky says:

    The letter isn’t overtly bad, but the whole ReputationDefender business model is. From their website:

    “Our trained and expert online reputation advocates use an array of proprietary techniques developed in-house to correct and/or completely remove the selected unwanted content from the web. This is an arduous and labor-intensive task, but we take the job seriously so you can sleep better at night. We will always and only be in YOUR corner.”

    That’s their arduous and labor-intensive proprietary technique? Whiny, self-serving emails? I challenge their intellectual property claims. I write whiny, self serving emails every day.

    I’m eagerly waiting to see how they escalate this. I want to see what they’re charging people for.

  21. Michael says:

    Considering the neutral presentation and sympathetic comments in the post referred to, I can’t see why he wants to have this removed. As far as I can tell, Priceline.com screwed him, he fought back, they screwed him again, and he fought back harder by filing suit against them. I’m sure many of us have been cheering him on and hoping he gets back his money and sticks it to the company who stuck it to him.

    If anything, you’d think he’d want his cause to be as widely known as possible, and would appreciate those who have supported him.

  22. I’m not an apologist or anything and I understand the response of “no,” by why tell them to go eat a dick? Seems a bit unnecessary.

  23. Skeptic says:

    Yeah, what’s up with the the “eat a d|ck” headline? The ReputationDefender letter was polite and non threatening. All they did was ask (for which they get paid regardless of the outcome, I think). They certainly didn’t rise to “d|ckishness,” unlike the editor by choosing to use the headline he did. That being said, I have mixed thoughts on the reasonableness of scrubbing history from the internet.

  24. spanky says:

    Nobody is forcing anyone to eat a dick. It’s just an empowering option. Yes, you can! You can do anything you set your mind to. You can eat a dick! Impossible is nothing!

    It’s not as though anyone was commanded to eat a bowl of fuck or anything.

  25. Ben Popken says:

    The tone was polite but I found the message, please help us censor the internet, offensive. I replied in kind.

  26. I would have to agree with both spanky and Ben. All those who feel crude expressions are not a valid form of expressing oneself can ummm, well… they can go eat a steaming plate of butt.

    I’m with battlerobo in that I was slightly shocked at first with repdefender’s polite tone. However, anyone who performs in the public arena needs to grow a pair and stand up for what they believe in. Instead of having your mommy come down to the playground to have a talking to with the bullies who called you names for eating your boogers in front of everyone by the swingset.

    Anybody who whines about people exposing them for who they are can all go eat a dick.

    Tina beat me to the punch here, as that was my first thought after reading the headline.

    I’m sure this sounds a bit confrontational, but whats with all the people who thought eating a dick was too extreme?

    Pittsburghsteamer hit the homophone and verizon joke perfectly. Got quite a chuckle out of that one.

  27. humphrmi says:

    I agree with Ben here. I probably wouldn’t have worded it the way he did, but eh whatever, that’s Ben’s style.

    In fact, I think that Consumerist needs to adopt an *official* policy that any attempts to request / demand censorship will be dealt with the same way. Perhaps once PR companies and “Reputation Defenders” learn that their attempts to censor will just result in more bad publicity, they will stop attempting to do it.

    The fact that it was a polite request is fine, but censorship is censorship and no matter how polite the request, it’s goal is evil. Today it starts as a polite request, and tomorrow the Internet Police will be telling you what you can and cannot publish. I’m sorry, but no matter how nice it was, their attempt at social engineering the web deserves the same response as every other one.

  28. mojohealy says:

    humphrmi: I disagree that Consumerist should have an official policy to dter such contact from PR types… it’s much for fun for the consumerist to a) post their hilarious, often illiterate and ignorant letters (the cc: leagal@thereisnolegal.com is a classic example), and then
    b) tell them go eat a cock, drink a cup of anus, or take a ride in the butt-boat.

  29. bmac says:

    What a scam of a service.

    * $15.95/month for a 6-month membership.

    * If we find an item of online content you don’t like, we’ll carry out our proprietary DESTROY process for you on that item for the one-time low fee of $29.95.

    $46 for them to send you a nice, sweet, almost apologetic email. Didn’t strike me as being worthy of an all-caps DESTROY label.

  30. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    “Could you please remove your posting http://consumerist.com/consumer/evil/ronnie-segev–reputat

    The word “twatwaffle” and “dick” are causing me psychological trauma.

    Oh, and there are a bunch of other posts that I don’t like either. Please remove those too.”

    I’ve found the best way to keep your name off Google and the internet in general is:

    1. Don’t do anything so impossibly stupid or ridiculous that it would attract the attention of anyone on the internet.

    2. Never post your own name, address, or phone number.

    3. Legally change your name to John Smith (that one really confuses the hell out of Google!)

    4. See #1.

    5. If you have to do something that falls into category #1, then be prepared to live with the ensuing publicity, be it good or bad.

  31. The Unicorn says:

    bmac — exactly. I really don’t see what this company does that you couldn’t do for yourself, and in fact, I feel that you’d probably be more successful contacting sites like this one personally than hiring a company to do so.

  32. Hoss says:

    I’m setting the over/under on the number of calls Ronnie aka Ronan makes to ReputationDefender aka ReputationBender for a refund at 333. Wagers by credit card now must be by Western Union. Thanks

  33. pestie says:

    Jesus, I never thought the phrase “eat a dick” would rile up so many Consumerists! I love that expression and I was amused as hell to see it used here.

  34. comedian says:

    Currently #4 on Google for Reputation Defender?

    That’s right, this very post.

    Well done!

  35. nick says:

    That’s freakin’ hilarious!

    How long do you think it will be before Reputation Defender has to issue the Consumerist a letter for themselves asking Ben to remove the “outdated and disturbing” information about their company?

  36. mechanismatic says:

    dwayne,

    What if you have the same name as someone who does something stupid to get their/your name clogging up the series of tubes?

  37. TinaT says:

    One does not have to be riled to notice that headlines about eating dick and getting blocked as a pr0n site might be linked.

  38. His_Tomness says:

    So in an effort to safeguard his reputation, this guy (through an agent) does pretty much the sort of thing generally recommended by this site in such circumstances, i.e. politely and professionally asking if they would consider a desired course of action as opposed to getting hotheaded, making demands, leveling threats, etc. And the response he gets is “Eat a dick?” Wow. I guess this is one instance where the bias is not really so much toward the consumer.

    Incidentally, censorship generally involves the prohibition of dissemination. Asking nicely if you might consider not publishing something is by no means tantamount to censorship, any more than asking if you’d consider mowing my lawn is tantamount to enslavement.

  39. mconfoy says:

    One born every minute is how this company does business.