It could happen to any of us.
You’re accused of a heinous crime. Accused of hiring someone to kill another person.
It makes the headlines. Everywhere.
It shows up immediately in Google. It will be in Google for the rest of your life.
Except, none of it is true.
That’s what happened to Randolph Forde, a school teacher that was accused–and subsequently acquitted–of offering money to one student to kill another. Despite Forde’s denial, and a grand jury not finding enough evidence to indict him–let alone convict him–Forde’s Google reputation is a mess:
It’s possible that CNN’s follow-up on Forde’s story, might make it into the top 10 results when you Google his name, but it’s unlikely. Just as a scandal sells newspapers, it also attracts links–which often ensures the negative article outranks the newer, positive one.
I told CNN:
“It’s impossible to entirely scrub your name or misdeeds from the digital landscape. When negative content about you begins to dominate Google, the trick becomes how to balance it with enough positive content to push the bad stuff down the list,” Beal said, the founder of Trackur.com, which monitors clients’ online reputations.
So, what hope is there for Forde? He admits in the CNN article that he doesn’t have the financial resources to hire someone to clean-up his Google reputation. And so, he continues to struggle to find a new job. One look at his Google reputation pretty much closes the door on any opportunity.
Is that fair?
Your professional career ruined because Google favors these negative results. Is it time for Google to take some kind of action in situations like this? Maybe a review committee? Maybe the option to “opt out” of results?
I don’t know the answer–and certainly any kind of manual manipulation by Google is fraught with issues, but not unprecedented.
All I know is that this problem is growing. Google may not be able to sit on the sidelines for much longer.
What do you think Google should do?