Dimentica.me: a New Web Reputation Service Against Online Libel

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Three alumni of the Continuing Education Course in International Management of Enterprises at John Cabot University, Alessandra Mazzuca, Edoardo Piscitelli, and Fabrizio Forleo, recently launched Dimentica.me. Dimentica.me (Italian for “Forget me”) is a web reputation service offered by the startup SAFE WEB Srl and created by John Cabot University’s Professor Stefano Gazziano. The service seeks to help individuals and small companies fight online libel. We discussed the project with Alessandra, Edoardo and Professor Gazziano.

dimenticame-inside

Left to right: Fabrizio Forleo, Alessandra Mazzuca and Edoardo Piscitello

Tell us a little bit about Dimentica.me.
ALESSANDRA: Dimentica.me is an innovative web reputation service. We help to enforce the right to be forgotten, a concept put into practice in the EU, which states that one shouldn’t be perpetually stigmatized for a specific action in the past. It’s one of the first services of its kind in Italy, if not worldwide. Most similar services are still only meant for big companies and are usually quite expensive.

PROF. GAZZIANO: The issue is that once something is on the Internet it stays there forever. If, for instance, you were convicted of a crime 10 years ago, and paid your debt to society, you should be able to move on with your life. With the Internet this is no longer possible. That old piece of news will keep haunting you, even if it shouldn’t.

ALESSANDRA: In theory there is legal support for victims, through the “right to be forgotten,” which was introduced by the European Court of Justice. However, it is often difficult and costly to enforce this right in courts.

EDOARDO: We also fight two specific practices: online libel and revenge porn. These are issues that are becoming more prominent every year, and I’m afraid this trend will only continue.

How does Dimentica.me operate?
EDOARDO: Whenever possible, we ask the website hosting the defamatory news to simply delete it. Sometimes this works. When it doesn’t, we perform reverse Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Professor Stefano Gazziano

Professor Stefano Gazziano

What is that?
ALESSANDRA: What it means is that we either write more recent news about the subject, or contextualize what happened in the past. Both of these practices allow us to “push” the old news down in search engines’ results, effectively “hiding” it. In fact, over 90% of searchers stop at the third page of results.

How did the idea of Dimentica.me come about?
PROF. GAZZIANO: Four or five years ago I started offering this service to friends in need.  I noticed it was an issue in continuous growth, and wanted to expand the service. I talked about this in my New Technologies for Company Competitiveness class, which is part of the program in International Management of Enterprises. After the end of the course, I ran into my former students Alessandra, Edoardo and Fabrizio. They showed interest in becoming part of the project, and Dimentica.me was created.

ALESSANDRA: We actually completely reinvented ourselves. I come from a legal background, as does Fabrizio, while Edoardo has an Industrial Engineering degree. In Dimentica.me we get to combine our previous knowledge with what we learned in the continuing education course, so we are a great team. Entering an entirely new market, one that we didn’t previously know, was not easy. But we gladly took on the challenge.