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When bad news happens, get a ‘cleaner’


By Dave Vieser. Back in November, a Davidson College assistant professor was one of 10 people arrested in a child exploitation sting operation conducted by the York County SC Sheriff’s Office and 12 other state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The college issued this statement: “The employee was placed on leave and barred from campus immediately following the arrest. The college cooperated promptly and completely with the investigation and cannot comment further regarding an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Michael Bovino, 38, had taught chemistry for close to two years at Davidson. One day later, his photo and name were gone from the college’s web site.

It demonstrates how quickly businesses and institutions can erase the names and photos of employees accused or even suspected of bad behavior.

In this day of public access and social media, polishing a firm’s or an individual’s image is big business.

Davidson College worked fast to remove any connection the school had with Bovino, but as of late December he still turned up on archived catalog called “New Faculty and Instructional Appointments, 2018-19,” not to mention—where he gets a 4.6 out of 5 point score.

Businesses can launch their own clean-up efforts by deleting content or—if they don’t control the site themselves—by flooding the Internet with alternative messaging. New posts and press releases can help bury a negative story in search results. Lots of new information can push older information down.

With literally billions of people online, maintaining a positive reputation is a business unto itself. A variety of services can manage identities online. Reputation management companies are modern-day “fixers” that can literally overwhelm negative and vindictive comments on the internet.

California-based Reputation Defender provides online reputation and digital privacy solutions for individuals and businesses. “We believe that everyone has the right to be empowered online—whether that means controlling the spread of your personal information or the way you are portrayed to others,” said founder Michael Fertik.

Reputation Defender staff uses proprietary algorithms and positive stories that virtually overwhelm negative search results with positive ones.

Online reputations are driven by reviews from customers, online comments, and conversations your business has with the customers.

It’s wise to pay attention to what people are saying about your brand and company. While it is impossible to be everywhere, there may be specific sites that pertain to your business.

Adding high-quality content can improve one’s reputation, as well as rankings in search engines.

Regardless of whether a crime was committed or not, anyone can publicly say almost anything about anyone. It doesn’t have to be true or fair.


Not discussing a negative situation is another way to manage an image or brand.  When CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox resigned his post several months ago after  lengthy negotiations with the school board, there was no information to be had.

“No you are not going to hear about it from us, unfortunately,” said Board Member Rhonda Cheek at the time.

A search for Wilcox on the CMS web site brings up 15 generic items but nothing about his period as superintendent.


  • Decide which sites to monitor
  • Designate a monitor, or monitors
  • Determine those comments that require a response
  • Decide who responds



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