Scientology is back at it again with the controversy.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, someone conducted a covert operation to scrub the Internet of criticism about Scientology’s controversial Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program, in 2016. The operation involved a series of forged court orders that were submitted to Google to expunge links to negative comments made about the program, specifically the Narconon facilities under known Scientologist, Per Wickstrom, in Michigan.
The fake orders were mostly aimed at sites like WhyWeProtest.net and the consumer watchdog site, RipoffReport.com, for the linking to “defamatory” material in their message boards and articles. According to THR reporters, they seemed to be templated on an authentic Hamilton Country court order.
Now while no one has been identified as being behind the fake orders, THR reporters found a link to business Web Savvy and owner John Rooney, a marketing consultant who describes himself as an expert in “removing negative content from the web and promoting client’s positive image.” Rooney has denied any work with Narconon, and when pressured further, has refused to respond.
Yet, the websites affected are not surprised at the attack. While this has been happening for a while now, what surprised them was that the fake court orders used real judges’ names.
“”It has become far more prevalent in the last year or so to attempt to de-index us with Google, since that’s how users find content anyway, and Google appears to almost automatically rubber-stamp [requests], so some people try to take advantage,” Ed Magedson, owner of RipoffReport told THR.
With Narconon’s controversy, Scientologists will probably have to do a lot more than try to delete negative comments off the internet.