In the past, we’ve talked about the fact that everything you put on the internet is there forever. In the good old pre-Internet days, if someone said bad things about you, it was either to your face or to a limited circle of people behind your back. The Web has provided a way for that limited circle to potentially reach around the globe. When someone expresses a negative opinion about you or your company, the whole world can see it, and it never goes away completely.
Of course, most people know not to believe everything they read online. But there are also people who think, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” That’s why you need to be aware of your online reputation and know what you can do to protect it, especially if you’re a business owner or professional. When this is the case, your reputation is more than just your face, it’s the face of the bottom line.
Most reputable websites offer a way to remove false or incorrect information. But that’s not the issue here. If the post is a non-aggressive opinion or a genuine criticism, there’s often nothing you can do. You can always (and should) do the due diligence: respond to legit criticism and report hate and abuse. And never ever neglect your online persona, but take the time to create positive posts, blogs, and other data that will push any negative information farther down the search engine food chain.
Of course, that is time; and it is trouble. That’s why there are companies such as Reputation.com (www.reputation.com) and Cyber Investigation Services (www.cyberinvestigationservices.com) that will help for a fee if you feel that you’ve been defamed online. And if your pockets aren’t quite that deep, there are several social networking websites that can help you do it yourself.