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Online trust is a very interesting concept – yet no company has really nailed it yet. For example, there are many numerical indices that are used to gauge trustworthiness, insurance risk and financial risk of individuals – but there is no score that reflects how trustworthy you are on the web.

Think FICO scores for example. FICO scores represent a fairly accurate representation of one’s financial habits over a long term and helps financial institutions and employers from pre-qualifying you for credit or employment.

There are plenty of reputation management start-ups in operation these days, but I am not really impressed with any of them. This is due to a very simple reason: lack of a compelling competitive advantage. Anyone can simply aggregate data from a bunch of public sources (like: social networks, personal websites, LinkedIn etc.) and assign a numerical value to it, but who cares?

TrustCloud (Founder & CEO: Xin Chung) is a fairly new start-up that’s aiming to solve this problem.

Will they succeed? Maybe. I am certainly intrigued.

The obvious challenge for TrustCloud and other companies in this “reputation management/trust” categories is not simply being able to verify “trusted” sources, it’s being able to distinguish between falsified data and real data. It’s so damn easy¬†to fool these services currently with doctored social media profiles, temporary phone numbers, email addresses and bogus mail drops – and if these are the elements that consists of “online trust” according to companies like TrustCloud — then good luck.

As always, you can use these networks for your own advantage by molding the perception of the public according to your own whim.

Don’t underestimate the power of misdirection.