Monday, July 6, 2009,, Violate FTC Regs


Newly formed complaint sites have sprung up in several incarnations. Each is designed to take the Better Business Bureau model to a new, for-profit extreme., (formerly until they lost their domain name), and are happy to take any complaint about any person or business. Any gripe will do, true or not. The sites then generate a URL which includes the name of the "defendant" (read "victim") of the complaint. Complainants have learned to place the name of their adversary in the complaint line, making the complaint pop up whenever anyone executes a google search on that person or business.

High maintenance customers of small business have married themselves to these sites, using them bully retailers of all sorts into capitulation.

Search the rolls of complaints, and you will find that everyone from the President to your corner deli has hatemail posted.

How do you remove it? Generally speaking, you don't. Lawsuits have been pursued fruitlessly, with few exceptions (see The sites hide behind freedom of speech, while using the traffic generated by your name to sell ads. And they don't just sell ads. Inquire about removal and you will quickly learn about their "Reputation Management" programs. Lucky you, now you can pay a few grand to have these anonymous gutter vermin "manage your reputation", which really means pay-to-remove-your-complaint. Yes, that's probably a form of blackmail. Tell some one who cares.


Slander sites may have a serious problem. Many people who want to attack a person or business will post their victim's name, address, phone number or more on the site. These pieces of information, taken together, are considered Personally Identifiable Information by the Federal Trade Commission.

By federal privacy regulations, you must have an option to remove your personally identifiable information from nearly any publication. Even worse for these blackmail sites, they trade in your information by selling ads to place in font of viewers seeking your information. Without your data, they don't have advertisers.

That amounts to trading your personally identifiable information. That's an FTC violation.


Anyone with personally identifiable information posted on any of these slander sites could therefore file a simple complaint with the FTC at There is a wizard to help you quickly file your complaint at

If need help filing your complaint, I will be happy to help you myself. You can contact me at

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