The practice of reputation management raises many ethical questions. It is widely disagreed upon where the line for disclosure, astroturfing, and censorship should be drawn. Firms have been known to hire staff to pose as bloggers on third party sites without disclosing they were paid, and some have been criticized for asking websites to remove negative posts. The exposure of unethical reputation management can itself be risky to the reputation of a firm that attempts it.
Some firms practice ethical forms of reputation management. Google considers there to be nothing inherently wrong with reputation management, and even introduced a toolset in 2011 for users to monitor their online identity and request the removal of unwanted content. Many firms are selective about clients they accept. For example, they may avoid individuals that committed violent crimes that are looking to push information about their crimes lower on search results.
In 2015, the online retailer Amazon.com sued 1,114 people who were paid to publish fake five star reviews for products. These reviews were created using a website for microtasks, Fiverr.com. Several other companies offer fake Yelp and Facebook reviews, and one journalist amassed five star reviews for a business that doesn’t exist, from social media accounts that have also given overwhelmingly positive reviews to “a chiropractor in Arizona, a hair salon in London, a limo company in North Carolina, a realtor in Texas, and a locksmith in Florida, among other far-flung businesses”.