Online Reputation Repair: The Untold Story of Innovation, an Unexpected Split, and How That Benefits You

Reputation Defender
5 min readJun 28, 2023
Five yellow stars in front of a person’s black-clad torso with one hand with a raised thumb with a smiley face on it and the other holding a phone.

There is rarely anything new under the sun.

Most things and ideas are recycled to be better, faster, or stronger nowadays. It’s not often we get to witness something new, something so needed, something so innovative it has the power to change people’s lives.

But, in 2006, that’s exactly what happened.

Digital Reputation?

When you think of your reputation, what comes to mind?

For Michael Fertik, it was equality. He wanted ordinary people and small businesses to have the same right to control and protect their privacy and reputation online as famous people and big corporations did.

In 2006, Michael would make history, becoming the founder of ReputationDefender and the father of online reputation repair — a brand-new business model.

Before ReputationDefender, if something bad (like a negative online review) was posted about you or your business online, it haunted you indefinitely, with negative items remaining highly visible in the search results for years, damaging your good name and your business.

ReputationDefender’s techniques and technologies gave individuals and companies the tools they needed to suppress bad search results, reclaim their reputations and their privacy, and make a better first impression online.

The Unexpected

When ReputationDefender offered to remove negative images and other damaging content from the world wide web, it was unheard of.

So, proof was needed for this new concept to stick.

Sadly, just two months after the company was founded, the proof the world needed was delivered. ReputationDefender was hired to remove images of an 18-year-old girl involved in a fatal car accident that were leaked by an insider on the case.

We were able to get 2,500 instances of the photos removed from websites, a process the New York Post at the time said was “surprisingly effective.”

It was not the kind of situation anyone wishes to have when being validated. But the world could see how the company’s efforts helped a family receive some peace in a horrific situation.

After that, you’d say the new company’s path was smooth sailing. But then, around 5 years later, something interesting happened.

ReputationDefender made a very big and public change that would make another mammoth splash in the space of online reputation management, disrupting the fairly young industry yet again. Is Born

As the marketing conditions shifted, the company responded by splitting the business into two parts: one that continued to provide the core ReputationDefender product and one that focused on enterprise reputation management. Together, these business units would operate under a new name:

The new company garnered lots of press attention, and Michael Fertik gained prominence as one of the world’s leading cyber thinkers in digital privacy and reputation. Consequently, he was invited to speak at conferences, appear on national radio stations, and on international TV screens broadcasted from some of the largest platforms, including:

· The BBC

· Good Morning America

· The Today Show

· Dr. Phil

· The CBS Early Show


· Fox

· Bloomberg


This online reputation tour was able to reach millions of people.

Bigger than that, the message was clear, helping all walks of life understand the importance of online privacy, reputation, and why it’s not fair for online data brokers to sell your personal information for a profit. & ReputationDefender Split into Two Companies sold the ReputationDefender business unit to The Stagwell Group in 2018. In 2021, ReputationDefender was acquired by NortonLifeLock and rebranded as ReputationDefender by Norton. ReputationDefender is now part of Gen Digital Inc., a publicly traded cyber safety company with nearly 500 million users worldwide.

So, while and ReputationDefender have similar names and a shared history, they offer unique benefits to those looking to fix or boost their online presence or protect their privacy.

Benefits of

As a leader in transforming feedback into growth for enterprise companies, provides some of the most sophisticated software-as-a-service in the world.

This platform allows you to:

· Increase visibility for business listings

· Track and manage reviews in one place

· Build and send surveys

· Use competitive intelligence

· Publish automatically, analyze, and control the social experience

Plus, so much more.

The insights you gain from all the data collected allow you to build a company that truly engages with and knows your customers and prospects, allowing your reputation to remain strong.

Benefits of ReputationDefender

When something negative shows up online about you, it can cause you to feel several different ways.

Many people reach out to ReputationDefender because of disgust of what is posted, fear of being misjudged, sadness, doubt, and even shame. The belief in the mission that everyone deserves to be properly represented online still burns bright after more than 15 years of service.

For those looking to strengthen their online reputation or privacy, ReputationDefender offers a host of solutions, including:

· Search Result Management

· Personal Branding

· Online Reviews

· Digital Privacy

· Executive Protection

· VIP Services

At the time of this writing, ReputationDefender has 256 reviews on Trustpilot and a 4.8 review rating. Another thing that’s very helpful is the company’s resource center and online guides that teach all about reputation management and privacy topics. This benefit alone will enhance your knowledge about how to protect your privacy and reputation online, whether you’re an individual, a family, or a business.

Last, but not least, is the company’s reputation report card tool you can use for free to get insight on how you’re being perceived by people searching for you online right now.


Michael Fertik responded to a change few others could see, and thank goodness he did, or maybe we’d still be losing to privacy invaders and at the mercy of inaccurate business reviews and unfair characterizations.

The gap in the system has been filled and enhanced by a vision of spreading online reputation repair across B2B and B2C. Ultimately, the big picture here is that by trying to help individuals and businesses achieve secure online privacy and better personal online presence, a whole industry was created that moved our entire society forward — benefiting us all in the process.

With that in mind, ReputationDefender’s story is pretty incredible, given the odds of changing the world with a single idea.

By Rockey Simmons



Reputation Defender

Learn how Reputation Defender can help protect your online reputation and privacy. Reputation Defender is now part of Gen Digital Inc.