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No matter whether its someone working at a dark PR agency, a clandestine government PR lab, or a member of Anonymous, targeting people with negative public relations programs has never been easier.
Google announced they are taking aim at fake news sites. But doing so may prove very difficult because the problem isn’t the sites, its the people publishing on them. By the time Google cracks down on a publisher the damage will already have been done and the perpetrators long gone.
Online Honey traps. In a classic honey trap, an agent seduces online the target (or hires someone to do so). This places them in a compromising position, preferably with photographic or video evidence (insert porn here).
The agent or an associate then posts the material online, either on the target’s own accounts and social media platforms (after obtaining his or her passwords) or on high-authority websites. The agent may also create written content detailing the experience or send evidence of the encounter to the target’s colleagues, friends, neighbors—anyone in the position to influence the victim’s web reputation.
Innaccurate content. An agent might use exaggerated real-life details to create misleading blog posts, social media posts and websites that portray the target in a negative light.
Social media manipulation. The agent can join the person’s social media accounts pages, posting or sending offensive or unflattering comments, photographs and other material.
Unauthorized leaks. Agents may leak damning information about an individual or company to news publications, competitors and others potentially in a position to harm the target’s internet reputation. In many cases, this just takes a little research using publicly available information.
Sustained negative content campaigns. Using surrogates and cloaking techniques, agents may post negative reviews, exposées and other unflattering pieces of content on online review sites like Yelp, consumer alert sites like RipOffReport, social media outlets and standalone websites. Often ‘straw man’ figures are used, fake names and identities online. All these venues can influence search results and create highly visible web reputation problems for targets.