Nicholas Carroll

Defamation Repair and Reputation Control

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What would you do if . . .

  • Your name is Google #1 linking to an article full of falsehoods
  • The local newspaper writes up your job resignation as though it were an admission of guilt
  • A TV station covers a criminal investigation but doesn't cover it a week later when the DA's office decides you are "not of interest"
  • Someone with a lot of "friend" connections goes nuts trashing you or your business on Facebook

I deal with these nightmares regularly, and have been doing so for more than 25 years. Particular areas of knowledge and experience:

• Online defamation, through social media, ratings websites, or targeted websites spreading negative information or outright lies. Sometimes it may just be careless repetition that can be removed with a phone call or email. If it's negative attacks against a local business or someone working in a professional niche, you probably have to take action – but even then, defamation repair might be done without legal action, through a calm online reply or a rebuttal on your own website.

Mainstream media libel often concerns me more than pure online defamation. Though social media libel in particular gets the main share of attention, bad press in mainstream media can be far more damaging. To win in court a defamation victim/target usually needs to prove the media committed or repeated defamation (legally "fault", a.k.a. "malice"), but traditional media is a lot more careful about avoiding libel than bloggers are. Also, accurate coverage can be just as damaging if it doesn't tell the whole story (like if a newspaper covers your arrest – but not the "boring" part of the story, that the district attorney dropped all charges). I act to flesh out the whole story in the public mind.

• "Pushing down" links to negative information in search engine rankings, which mostly means on Google, by writing high-quality targeted content to capture the top search engine positions for your name or your company. Many ORM (Online Reputation Management) companies advertise this service, but few have more than 10-15 years of experience in SEO. I've been promoting individuals, services, and products through search engines for over 25 years, and a lot of that work required correcting false impressions.

• "Deleting" negative information from the internet. This service (or sales pitch) comes in three varieties. #1 and #2 are legitimate:

1. Getting the hosting service or social media platform to cancel the defamatory account, and then it goes dark itself. This is sometimes possible if there is a complaint like hate speech, advocacy of violence, or evidence that the website/account holder is engaged in a crime like child pornography. I frequently take on those situations, contacting the host on the defamation target's behalf.

2. Delisting the negative pages from search engines, particularly Google. This is often possible – even without a court decision, Google and other search engines might delist a site on request. Why? Because not even Google has an unlimited budget to deal with formal complaints or lawsuits, and they may just delist the page to save themselves a hassle. (If a search engine wants to see a legal decision, I have a short list of attorneys who specialize in takedowns. If the defamation is per se and legally obvious to any judge, they push through a quick cheap lawsuit, and then send the decision to the search engines and/or the hosting service.)

3. Deleting the negative web pages themselves with malicious hacking. For a first-rate programmer, it's quite possible, but there are potential problems. If the hired programmer manages to delete a particular page or pages, the website owners simply restore it from their backup, the hosting service tightens their security, and the page is back online in hours. If the programmer – and it doesn't take a first-rater for this tactic – makes the whole website "go dark" for several days, then other webites at the same web host have probably gone dark too, and will be complaining to law enforcement. Knock down a major website for a few days, and the FBI could come knocking. I don't provide these services; aside from being illegal, a news story on how you illegally hacked websites means you need even more defamation repair.

• Developing your own website to rank high for your name on Google and other search engines. This can be hugely effective if done well. In as little as a few months you may "own your identity" again. It is rarely done well, because it's usually done by inexperienced or offshore web developers with plenty of buzzwords but very limited search engine optimization experience. When I'm retained to develop any website, I need the help of the defamation victim for some raw material, and I take defamation repair from there: naming and structuring the website correctly, tweaking the content for high search engine rankings, adjusting internal coding being read by search engines, developing links for better SERP (Search Engine Results Page) position, and above all ... telling the true story in clear and credible language.

There is a pattern common to all these points, and that is "positioning." The classic book How to Advertise concludes with "You can break any rule in this book except the first: positioning. Positioning is how you place your product, service, or professional image in the reader's mind."

And that is where I break from the online reputation management niche and cut straight to the core need of defamation repair; I pay attention to the technical tweaks and social media details, but at day's end, to say the job has been done well, I want to know that we have correctly positioned a person, product, or service in the public mind.

My Background:
I was born into journalism and publishing. Both my parents were editors and writers, and my grandfather was a publisher, so mainstream media is something I learned at the dinner table. I started programming in college before personal computers were available, our programs running on mainframe computers. When primitive PCs became available I went online, in the pre-Web text-only world, until the Worldwide Web added graphics in the early 1990s and websites became possible, and I started building my own websites and learned SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When I started writing books around that time I promoted my books through mainstream media, learning how news spreads through syndicates and "newswires," and when social media exploded around 2005 I learned to navigate and leverage SM platforms.

References from Colleagues and Clients

"I got to know Nicholas through his book Fighting Slander. It was a godsend as I moved through a challenging incident. Our professional relationship has grown and I now consult with him on Reputation Repair. His sage advice and insights help me as I work with people getting around the emotional piece of detangling the damage of defamation and public humiliation."
– Jennifer Cunningham, Coaching and Conflict Management,

"Nicholas has a deep understanding of all aspects of search engine optimization, both on-page and off-page factors including site architecture, page rank analysis, technical factors, keyword selection and use and more. As a result of this depth of knowledge, his insights and recommendations are both intuitive and well researched and provide his clients with an advantage that will be hard to match."
– Ken Horst, Digital Marketing Strategy Manager – Testing and Optimization at U.S. Bank

"I didn't get to work directly with Nicholas when he was at IBM as much as I'd have liked, but even so he stood out as having a broad range of experience that he could bring to bear on web topics. Instead of just following "best practice" or what the latest guru said about the web, he actually analyzed the situation drawing on related subjects. Nicholas is a truly rare find."
– Jennifer Day, Applied Data Science Director at EDITED

"Nicholas is widely knowledgeable, insightful, and good at whatever he turns his hand to. He draws on a wide range of experience to ace every new project."
– Marcia Bates, Professor Emerita at UCLA, GSEIS (Graduate School of Education and Information Science)

"Nicholas performs to the professional standards of the entertainment industry, meeting hard deadlines. His knowledge of appropriate quality content led to ranking on the search engines within three days."
– Dot Findlater, Founder of Mirror Images Global Entertainment Specialty Casting

"I have had the pleasure of working closely with Nicholas on a long-term and extremely complex project. Nicholas never lost sight of the big picture, prioritizing large tasks and small details alike in such a way that deliverables were completed on or in advance of schedule. There’s no question that as a result of his superb organizational and strategic skills, the project was completed in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible."
– Doris Castagno, Educational Reference Publishing, LLC

Online articles I've written on defamation:

Please contact me by:

1. Phone: 415–810–1966 Pacific Time

2. Email:

No charge for a brief phone call. Normally I can't solve anyone's entire defamation problem in 30 minutes, but I can usually tell you whether I can be of help with some brief online research. (When the defamatory situation is complicated, I may need to dive deeper into online research to tell whether I can be of help. Regardless, I tell you as quickly as possible what can be accomplished.)

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