Friday, February 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: ReputationDefender, CEO - Michael Fertik Specialist in Online Defamation

Lawsuit Cracks Open Online Anonymity
Shortcomings in the Law Allow Cyberdefamation Campaigns, Legal Expert Says

Read entire article here:

The Law as an Accomplice

Legal experts, however, emphasized that the law protects Web sites like Topix. Even if the comments are considered defamatory by a court of law, Topix has no legal obligation to take the content down.

Defenders of the legal landscape argue that a change could stifle open discussion and free speech. But others maintain that in stories like this, regardless of who emerges, once the veil of anonymity is lifted, it is the law itself that is a co-conspirator."The law as it currently stands is an accomplice because it creates no incentive whatsoever for Web sites to review or police themselves from content that is potentially devastating to real people and real lives," Michael Fertik, a lawyer who specializes in online defamation, told

Part of the problem, Fertik continued, is that laws that made sense at the birth of the Internet age have not matured. It takes years to redress online defamation problems under the present regime. But, in the meantime, libelous comments easily found through search engines can sideline both personal and professional lives.

Although privacy and free speech advocates worry that changes to the law could "chill" online speech, Fertik argued that "the law can easily catch up without destroying speech."But until then?

"The law provides the red dye for the scarlet letter," Fertik said. "It provides the ink for the tattoo that people create on Web sites like this."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Don't Let The Web Kill What You Love by Michael Fertik

As someone that knows firsthand how the Internet can create you into someone you barely recognize, Michael Fertik is one of the pioneers in helping people maintain their online image. This is not about changing who you are, but letting people see the real you. Today there is so much Internet Gossip that separating it from Internet Fact, can be confusing. Not to mention many won’t take the time to determine the difference. I won the landmark case for Internet Defamation - over $11M jury verdict for damages - and that was vindication - Reputation Defender cleaned up what the defendant created. I will ever be grateful for my attorney, David Pollack, and Michael Fertik.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Warren Buffett said that, before the invention of the Internet. Now, in the information age, the statement has never been more truthful. That is why I started a business, ReputationDefender, that is all about protecting reputations.

Your good name, and the reputations of your family, business, and everything you love, is valuable. So, when your neighbor, a customer, or a love interest plugs your name into a search engine, what will they find?

Anyone can come along and slam you online and if that happens, search results for your name might be dominated by negative, incomplete, or even false information. A hostile online comment might represent the uncommon experience of a dissatisfied customer or disgruntled neighbor, but due to the structure of search engines, that single opinion can be greatly amplified and made to look like a universal point of view. You might fall victim to the sniping of an anonymous blogger or even a competitor posing as an angry customer.

It’s not only easy to publish half-truths, innuendo, and falsehoods on the Internet, it’s also easy to make them stick. Many people who publish negative web content know how to make it maximally destructive. Lies, rumors, or memes take flight easily, getting repeated, added to, and generally magnified. Even though some of these narratives are discovered to be false, very few of them get debunked as loudly as they are broadcasted in the first place. As a result, false content often becomes more visible on the web than, say, well-researched articles from reputable news sources. It might seem illogical that bogus speculation can end up dominating searches for you, but that’s how a rumor mill works.

A great strength of the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice. That’s also one of its dangers: it can endow fraudsters and idle speculators with the appearance of authority.

The danger is real. This does not mean you should stop using the Internet. It means that you must proactively establish your accurate and positive presence on the web before there is a problem. You need to maximize your control over what people find about you, before someone else does it for you.

There are options. Companies have developed software solutions for online reputation protection. ReputationDefender, which is now a partner with network, is my company, and we do just that.

Michael Fertik is the Founder and CEO of ReputationDefender, the online reputation management and privacy company.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sue Scheff - Teen Help - Residential Therapy - Learn More

If you are debating residential therapy for your teen, learn more about this extremely daunting and confusing industry. Yes, you need to get help - but educate yourself first.

Learn more about Wit's End at and author Sue Scheff at -the response has been overwhelming!

If you are struggling with your teen today - pick up Wit's End and learn more!

For a quick read, check out - the foundation of Wit's End!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Help Programs - Learn More About Finding Safe Resources for Your Teen

Many are aware of the pending legislation in regards to help regulate schools and programs for at risk teens. This bill may not be perfect, but it is a start and has finally opened discussions. As a parent that was a victim of the teen help industry - and my daughter endured abuse both physically and emotionally, I understand the need for not only good programs, but oversight so what happened to my daughter doesn’t continue to happen to others. Which is why I created Parents’ United Resource Experts in 2001. We help educate parents that are desperate and at their wit’s end. They are ready to make rash decisions, as I did - trusting people while I was in desperate state of mind. Afterall, as a parent, we want to help our kids - it is natural.
Most importantly, this is not to say all programs are bad - quite the contrary, most are good, however it is about educating parents about finding the best fit for your individual child. Questions to Ask Schools and Programs, Helpful Hints, and my new book - Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out of Control Teens has a complete step by step section to help you - help your teen.

Mike Kruger - Online Outreach Specialist - Committee for Education and Labor

Teen Residential Programs are currently virtually unregulated and the House Education and Labor Committee is going to pass minimum standards for these programs to protect the safety of children. The link to the Markup is here - - and will include more information after the Committee votes.

Advisory: House Education Committee to Vote on Legislation to Stop Child Abuse in Teen Residential Programs WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Education and Labor Committee will consider legislation to protect teenagers attending residential programs from physical, mental and sexual abuse and help ensure that parents have the information they need to make safer choices for their kids. An investigation conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office at the committee’s request found thousands of cases and allegations of child abuse and neglect at residential programs for teens, including therapeutic boarding schools, boot camps, wilderness camps, and behavior modification facilities. In some cases, this abuse led to the death of a child.

WHAT: Mark-up of H.R. 911, “Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009”

WHO: The House Education and Labor Committee

WHEN: Wednesday, February 11, 200910:15 a.m. EST WHERE: House Education and Labor Committee Hearing Room2175 Rayburn House Office BuildingWashington, D.C.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sue Scheff - Teen Help - Teen Intervention - Parenting Resources

Are you struggling with debating whether you need to look for outside help with your troubled teenager?

Are you ready to make some very difficult decisions? Are you at your wit's end?

Do you believe you need teen intervention from outside resources? Struggling financially and emotionally with this decision?

Are you willing to share your story on TV? This is not about exploiting your family, but helping others that are silently suffering and not realizing they are not alone as well as giving your teen a second opportunity at a bright future. Most remember Brat Camp - this is a bit different. Starting with educating parents about the first steps in getting your teen help - determination and transportation.

If you are interested in participating, read below and contact Bud and Evan directly.

Brentwood Communications International is an award-winning television production company in Los Angeles, California. We have recently begun work on a new television series about the real life work of interventionist / transporter Evan James Malmuth of Universal Intervention Services (“UIS”).

If you would be willing to allow us to film your case / intervention for the television series, Evan Malmuth and Universal Intervention Services will provide intervention / transportation services at no charge to you. In addition, we will negotiate at least one month of treatment services at a qualified treatment center at no charge with the purchase of at least two additional months of treatment at pre-negotiated discount rates. At the current rate of these services, this represents thousands of dollars in savings.

BCII and Evan Malmuth are not interested in making exploitative reality television. We are committed to helping you and your family and improving lives through the media.

If you are interested in participating in the show and using the services of Evan Malmuth and UIS, please contact us right away. Every day counts.


Phone: 818-333-3685

With best regards,

Bud Brutsman, CEO - Brentwood Communication Intl., Inc.

Evan James Malmuth, CEO - Universal Intervention Services

Brentwood Communications International, Inc.
3500 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sue Scheff: Reputation Defender - Michael Fertick featured on The Early Show

(CBS) Did you ever "google" yourself and find something negative?

It should worry you. Just one negative posting can cost you a job

It's estimated that more than 70 percent of employers do a Web search on job applicants as part of their hiring procedures. More than half of them admit to not bringing someone on board because of negative information they found online.

It could be something you posted years ago, or something put into cyberspace by someone you know - or even a perfect stranger.

What can you do about it?

Michael Fertik, founder of, had some advice on The Early Show Saturday Edition.

Fertik says he started the business two years ago with one person. He now has 60 employees. His service costs about $10 a month.

Fertik told substitute co-anchor Seth Doane that safeguarding your online reputation is “as important as your credit score nowadays. Every life transaction that you have, whether you’re looking for a job, you’re looking for romance, you’re looking for a friend - people are gonna look you up on the Web and make conclusions based on what they find.

"One random, idiosyncratic piece of content about you on the Web could dominate your Google results forever," he said. "It's such an issue: It affects people who are undeserving, people who are sort of using bad judgment, all kinds of different people."

What's worse, legal recourse is murky at best, Fertik observed, saying, "The law hasn't caught up yet with privacy. The Internet has really changed the privacy landscape in a big way and the law hasn't yet caught up with it. It's lagging behind, so far."

Fertik stressed that, "You have to be on top of your (online) reputation. It's not about narcissism. It’s about your personal brand. Especially in a down economy, people are looking you up, they’re making decisions. They're denying you a job unless they find something really good about you on the Web."

He had three key pieces of advice:

First, never let anyone set up your reputation online. Establish yourself online to create a clear and positive image of you. Don't wait for someone else to destroy it. Use what he calls "Google insurance": Create a profile on something like Facebook that's positive and tasteful. Claim the real estate on your name. What is said about you on the Web isn't a function of you living a righteous life: Anyone can say something bad about you. "Write your own history," he recommended.

Second, if there's a problem with your online reputation, you have to find it. Constantly monitor the Web. Search for full names, usernames, etc. Be on top of the game. Go deep into the Internet to Web sites that aren't indexed by Google: "The deep Web - Facebook, MySpace, the pages where the content really starts to generate and become problematic."

"Monitor yourself assiduously," Fertik told Doane.

Third: The longer it's there, the more it spreads and can be archived. If you see a problem, deal with it quickly. Get in touch with people and tell them to stop, in a kind and thoughtful way, without getting a lawyer involved right away. Reach them on a human level. If you want professional help, companies such as ReputationDefender are available. As Fertik told Doane, "Nip it in the bud before it spreads and gets mirrored and replicated. If you can't do it, you want to hire the pros."

If you do find something bad about yourself, how do you get it offline?

"Sometimes," Fertik responded to Doane, "what we do is, we overwhelm the 'bad' with good to make sure that when people look you up, they see what you want them to see, they see your good videos, not necessarily the (bad ones)."