Own It. Define It. Defend It.© Protecting Your Online Reputation Part III
"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoe."
- Mark Twain
Ah, little did Mark Twain know how true this statement would truly become. Especially these days. While running for President this a few years back, Rick Santorum declared “I vow to stay in this race until the convention or until that damn web site drops out of the top five!” Well, he didn’t make it to the convention, at least not as a candidate, but he did successfully bump “that damn web site” out of the top five in a Google search of his name.
Not all of us are fortunate enough to generate news interest or even generate negative publicity but as information about us grows, so does this possibility. So, what do we do if something negative shows up about us in a Google search? Run for President? No.
Let's hope we never get to this step and need to defend against something negative out there on the web, but let's also hope you've heeded the advice in this series of blogs so that you are the first to know if something bad does surface. What then? First it's important to note that Google will not remove information from the web unless it is breaching personal information (e.g. your social security number). It wasn't l recently that Google removed anything at all, but these instances were very egregious and Google did the right thing.
Steps to take:
- Start by contacting the offending site to request that the information be removed. Be prepared to make your case as to why.
- Actively post new information in order to bump down the offensive posts.
- Create a larger web footprint for yourself (start that Twitter account, get on Linkedin, build a website.)
- Apologize and/or otherwise tell your story.
If you are concerned that you cannot manage the issue on your own, look into (and pay for) the services of companies like Reputation.com, Brand-Yourself, Vizibility and Defend My Name. All four offer varying degrees of reputation management services.
And, sadly, if all else fails, you should contact an attorney. There are causes of action, both criminally and civilly that may help. Criminally you may have a case for Harassment or Invasion of privacy. Civilly you may be able to make a case for defamation, false light, interference with business relations or unfair competition. Before going the route of filing suit be sure to assess the strength of your case, what it's going to cost you, who you need to sue and whether there are alternatives to a law suit. The burden is on you so be prepared.
Words to live by: Be careful what YOU post online about others. There is a fine line between opinion and defamation and nothing is truly anonymous. Free speech doesn't prevent others from suing you for things you've posted.
Own it, define it, defend it.© Now you're ready for social media.
Need help managing your reputation? We can help you with that, contact us.