There are two sides of the online reputation game: the white hats and the black hats.
The legitimate, reputation management services are called the white hats. These companies work hard to improve the company, brand, or person’s search engine results with the use of true and tried marketing techniques, that don’t violate any rules.
The black hats’ firms are associated with the dark side of the industry that break rules;
would border on blackmail sometimes; and even sometimes break laws. Some, who have gotten caught breaking laws, were forced to pay hefty fines. Their aim is like the white hats, which is to make their clients have higher search engine results of positive information, and lowering the rank of the negative information for them. However, their means are downright scandalous many times.
There are known reports of different companies being caught with their hand in the cookie jar, sort of speak. They have been caught writing fake reviews on Angie’s List and Yelp, for example. They even wrote positive comments on blogs or on Reddit, among other sites, that were fake. A recent study by Harvard Business School has shown that approximately 20% of Yelp reviews are fake. Additionally, Yelp has stated that they successfully fight these fake reviews, in which 25% of submitted reviews are not published on their business listing. Other companies, like Samsung, have written false reports about their companies, and lied about their competitors. Even the New York State Attorney General recently busted 19 companies for the same type of behavior, which is known as astroturfing. And as a result, the companies were fined $2,500 to $100,000 apiece. And lastly, when it comes to blackmail, there are some companies who would post damaging material on sites, and would make people pay them, in order for this material to be removed. Another form of blackmail is sites that scam users by promising results, would take their money, and never deliver what is promised.