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Search Results For Sleazy

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Search Results For Sleazy

The World Wide Web is a marvelous thing. Because it exists, more people have direct access to more knowledge than at any time in history. But, by linking people everywhere, the Web has also spawned a new international criminal class, and a related class of sleazy businesses.

Security software can help block this wave of woe. But it would be better to know in advance if a Web site that comes up in a search result, or one you arrived at through other means, is harboring malicious software, or perpetrating scams, or generating spam and unwanted pop-ups. It might also be nice to know if a site with an innocuous name contains pornography, hate speech or other content that might be offensive to you.

SiteAdvisor works via a software plug-in that you download and install. The plug-in, available at, modifies either the Internet Explorer browser for Windows, or the Firefox browser for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, so the browser can identify bad Web sites. SiteAdvisor works with the Google, Yahoo and MSN search engines.

Scandoo requires no software downloads and works with more browsers than SiteAdvisor does. But it requires you to enter a search term at its Web page,, rather than at the home page or search box of your favorite search engine. It then transfers to the search engine you choose and modifies the results page to identify sites that may be troublesome. It now works only with Google or MSN.

There are some other major differences between the two. Scandoo scans Web pages on the fly to look for bad stuff. SiteAdvisor matches Web sites against a database it has compiled about content. Scandoo works only on pure search results, not the ads alongside the results. SiteAdvisor rates the results and the ads, which often are more dangerous.

In addition, because it is built into the browser, SiteAdvisor can rate any site you are visiting, not just sites listed in search results. SiteAdvisor places a small, unobtrusive icon in your browser. The icon is green if you are on a Web page it considers safe and honest. It turns red if it regards the site as dangerous.

Scandoo works only on search results pages. But it has a function SiteAdvisor lacks. It can rate pages for offensive content, while SiteAdvisor focuses just on the presence of malicious software, or invasive advertising techniques. Scandoo allows you to specify which kinds of content you want flagged, including pornography, hate speech and gambling.

The biggest spenders are actors, lawyers, doctors, and politicians. They'll hire reputation management experts when top search results uncover things like lawsuits or jail time, or other embarrassing items.

Counterintuitively, Google unintentionally helps the reputation management industry. Google keeps tweaking its search algorithm so that it always delivers the best results. Just when a reputation management company successfully buries a negative story under a bunch of spin, it often reappears again in the top search results. And the person must open the checkbook again.

"I like the challenge of moving the search results," one former rep management worker told us. "When you're finally successful and you move that bad article onto the second page, it's a sense of accomplishment."

When it comes to reputation management, there are many legitimate services, known as "white hats." These are people who work hard to improve a company's or person's search engine standing through tried-and-true marketing techniques that don't violate any rules.

Another thing that black hats do is write articles for Wikipedia. Wikipedia articles often rank high in Google search results, and that can help bump a bad-news article from the top of a search result.

Wiki-PR CEO Jordan French disputes the characterization that his company does paid, biased editing for Wikipedia using sock puppets. He says that not all paid editing is a violation of Wikipedia's policies and that his company is a rese


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