Out in the Open

'People deserve a second chance' in wake of #MeToo movement, says online reputation manager

Matt Earle, founder of Reputation.ca, works with individuals and businesses whose reputations have taken a hit online.

Matt Earle, founder of Reputation.ca, works with individuals and businesses whose reputations have taken a hit

Matt Earle is the founder and president of the "online reputation management" company Reputation.ca. (Courtesy of Matt Earle)

In the court of public opinion, Matt Earle is a defence lawyer.

He's the founder and president of an "online reputation management" company, Reputation.ca. His service manipulates online information about its clients by modifying search engine results, suppressing unflattering content and boosting positive stories.

"Really, it's about creating some balance for the negative information," he told Out in the Open host Piya Chattopadhyay. 

Reputation.ca works with both individuals and businesses. Some of Earle's clients are victims of untrue rumours posted to blogs. But others are high-profile people whose reputations have taken a hit through widespread media coverage. In either case, he said accusations published online can be "devastating for someone who has worked hard all their life to be a good person."

'A second chance'

For that reason, Earle is sympathetic toward the recent string of men who've been accused of sexual misconduct.

"I think there's mechanisms in society to apply punishment to people and to make them accountable for what they've done," he said. "My personal opinion is that the vast majority of people deserve a second chance."

Last year, Earle spoke to media on behalf of former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who was launching a podcast at the time. Ghomeshi was acquitted in 2016 on multiple charges of sexual assault, and one of choking. In another case, he agreed to a peace bond and apology with an accuser. The accusations and trial were widely publicized. 

If we help this person ... is this person going to harm other people in the future?- Matt Earle, founder and president of Reputation.ca

"This is a situation where you have the overwhelming majority of people — the media, public opinion — everyone kind of ganging up and attacking this person ... I don't want someone to be destroyed and thrown in the garbage," said Earle.

But Earle added that his company won't take on just anyone who's willing to pay.

"We have ethical standards," he said. "It all really comes back to the question: If we help this person — if we're successful at what we're trying to do here, which we often are — is this person going to harm other people in the future?

"Obviously, we don't want that on our conscience."

This story originally aired on April 8, 2018. It appears in the Out in the Open episode "Reputation".


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