How to clean up your image and start a new digital life for people and companies (but not for everyone)
Online reputation is our business card. First, the Internet and then social networks have defined new dynamics from which we will never go back and of which we can no longer do without. Whether it’s for business or personal relationships, those who want to look for information about us go online to see who we are, how we’ve done and what we think. In this way, a sort of identikit is created, even if it doesn’t always correspond to the truth, both in a positive and negative sense.
A wrong photo can be enough to blow up a job interview and there are many pitfalls linked to reputational problems. To understand more about the subject, therefore, we interviewed Sveva Antonini and Gabriele Gallassi, founders of Tutela Digitale, an Italian company based in Bologna. It specializes in resolving cases involving image damage due to diverse and contradictory threats. In less than five years it has managed the removal and de-indexing of approximately 5,000 links with a success rate close to 90%.
What can people do to protect their digital identity?
Online formats are available to report to the site, social, internet service provider that is, the content to be removed. However, independent management is often difficult due to the different policies adopted by the various platforms. Another crucial aspect is to monitor one’s own reputation with the alert tools available (for example Google Alert) or by applying privacy filters to individual photos and posts published.
What are the most common requests you receive?
The most frequent requests concern the removal of photos and videos for different reasons. Those who have problems with revenge porn, those who find images from the past that no longer represent the person concerned in the present and now, increasingly, young people ask us to remove videos that they find embarrassing uploaded by their parents. There are also many requests from professionals who appeal to the right to be forgotten because they have been investigated and acquitted but find themselves having to live, despite the fact that years have passed since the facts, with the memory of the network that sometimes does not offer a second chance.
Your main solution to solve the problems is LinKiller: what is it and how does it work?
LinKiller was born in 2017. At that time we were working for the Spanish company Red Point, today a leading company in the fight against online counterfeiting at a global level. Then we realized that in Italy there wasn’t a tool, accessible to everyone, to protect one’s online reputation. We developed a web platform and a proprietary app that allows, in a simple and fast way, the deletion or de-indexing from the web of content considered harmful and defamatory such as unauthorized photos and videos, outdated news that no longer respect the right to news, fake pages and profiles on social networks, confidential data.
Once downloaded LinKiller, it is necessary to register through a fast and intuitive system, indicate the unwanted link and monitor, in real-time, its management on the web. Once the feasibility of the intervention has been established, thanks to our Reputational Algorithm, the application manages the removal of the damaging content and allows people to verify, through push notifications directly from the application, the number of deleted links and the progress of the removal and de-indexing process. The elimination takes place in a short time: if there are no particular problems we are talking about a few days, in the simplest cases even a few hours.
The other two tools you use are LinkMonitor and LinkBetter: what are they for?
They are complementary to LinKiller. The first is the web sentinel, which works on 150 million online sources (newspapers, social networks and blogs) distributed worldwide in 187 languages, analyzing the network 24 hours a day to find information in real-time on the reputation of people, brands, products and competitors to detect any negative content. With LinkBetter, on the other hand, ad hoc contents are defined to help rehabilitate the web reputation of people and companies that, following the most effective SEO rules, are indexed among the first search results, creating the basis for a new digital identity.
Revenge Porn, cyberbullying, right to be forgotten, sex changes, are some of the cases for which it can be useful to clean up the online image: given that each case has its own story, what is the most complex issue to be addressed and de-indexed?
There are several variables that come into play for each type of example given. The most important ones are the time, the type of content and the platform where it is published. And the path is not always automatic: an article for which the client is requesting the application of the right to be forgotten may not reflect the characteristics to continue with the request for deletion, but it may have a photo that does not respect copyright and therefore this other path can be used for its management. For this reason, in the most complex cases, our legal team intervenes and indicates how to approach the content.
Can clean up your online image also include those who are guilty of serious crimes, or are there those who are excluded from Tutela Digitale services?
We absolutely do not follow (we have never done so and we will never do so) crimes against the person and everything that is connected to the world of minors (pedophilia and abuse) and the sphere of sexual violence.
What are the dynamics of the most surprising and complicated cases to solve?
A first case is homonymy. The client has a homonym who has committed serious crimes and when typing the first and last name, the indexing of the offender’s content is stronger than that of the client.
The case of homonymy is very difficult to deal with. It has happened to do research to be able to contact the homonym and propose our services, thus solving two cases. Other times, when this is impossible, we advise to the client so that he associates his name with a double name and then insert it in the content that concerns him.
Another curious case concerns a showgirl who wanted to delete her past photos (many with naked breasts) because she had started a new job. We had to delete more than 300 photos. The third option is the Right to be forgotten, with the case of a financial entrepreneur who was put on the World Checklist (a database that indicates high-risk people and organizations) for the presence of negative articles and comments on the web. However, he had never been involved in judicial proceedings but only in a journalistic investigation as he had companies in Malta, Luxembourg, Switzerland. A complicated case concluded with the elimination or de-indexing of 50 articles no longer relevant to the right to report.
Have you received requests from abroad?
Yes, that’s why we’ve started internationalizing our activity, exporting our technology to France and Portugal, countries that at this time have similar dynamics to Italy. But online reputation is a topic that is increasingly felt all over the world and we don’t exclude going overseas.
What impact could metaverse and other virtual experiences have on online reputation?
An impact comparable to what happens in real life. The more we move towards a digital dimension, the more the border with the real one becomes thinner. In a few years, we will get requests in this sense too.