Today, almost everyone has some form of a web presence. Whether it’s a dating profile, a personal website, a social networking site, email, a blog or a business website, everyone seems to have some online presence, with at least minimal personal information. It’s bound to happen when on the internet that a person, much like in real life, can get a bad reputation.
Unfortunately, unlike in real life where people eventually forget, the event diminishes, and life moves on, on the internet, everything we do can come back to haunt us. What gets indexed in search engine giant Google is not easy or likely to get removed, and Google has no real obligation to do so, since they aren’t the one who controls what is said or the websites where things are said. Google simply indexes those things for people to find.
Even if Google removed the indexing, anyone can still stumble upon something with a direct link. So how can you protect or repair your online reputation if there has been damage done to your name, image or likeness?
It’s almost too obvious to mention that you need to be careful with your online reputation and choose your words that flow from your fingers carefully. Preventing damage to your online reputation is the best way to keep a good online reputation. Still even with all your best efforts, there will be others who can take anything you do or so, offline or online, and use it to damage your online reputation.
It’s tough, but it’s not impossible to repair an online reputation once it’s been damaged. The first step in the process is to determine what damage has been done. Has someone said something bad about you on a blog? Is there a picture of you on the internet that was put there without your permission?
After you’ve assessed the damage to your online reputation, your next step is to consider whether or not you have a justifiable cause for legal action. If the reputation has been damaged through slanderous activities or libelous writing, and that has in some way caused you monetary loss–loss of a job or the loss of a promotion or turning clients away from your business–then you might want to consider hiring an attorney and taking the libeler to court to recover those damages and seek financial remedy.
Now, if you determine that the damage to your online reputation is not a financial damage, but nothing more than damage to your name that is embarrassing, untrue, or being done to cause you pain or suffering, you might still have a legal course of action to seek a different type of financial remedy. Again, contacting an attorney is the best course of action if you feel you have been damaged to that extent.
If, however, you are simply in an uncomfortable situation and you would like to get the damage removed, your next step is to ask the person writing the negative information about you to remove it. If they do remove the information that is damaging your online reputation, in a few days, the search engines will re-index the pages with the damaging information, and a few weeks later, the caches will all update, and the information will be gone.
If the person who controls the negative information that is damaging your online reputation refuses to remove the information, your next step is to contact the owner or host of the service or page in question. For example, if the damaging online information is on a social networking site, such as Myspace or Facebook, you would need to contact their customer service.
It’s a little bit harder if it’s on a blog or a website where the damaging information is located. You would need to do a DNS search on the domain to determine who owns or controls the domain, and find out who the host for that domain is. The person who owns the domain isn’t always the same person who hosts it. Google FREE DNS SEARCH or WHOIS INFORMATION and you can find lots of free sites online where you can enter the domain and get the contact information for that site or domain.
Remember, the host of the domain company are neither responsible for nor required to monitor or remove anything on their network. Please treat them with courtesy when you contact them, because they are not the ones causing the damage and they are the ones who can help you.
If you can’t get things removed, and oftentimes you can’t, the only other option is to take matters into your own hands.
DO NOT slanderous or defame the other person, or do anything libelous toward them, as this will only compound the damage to your online reputation by confirming the negative information the other has used against you.
The best thing to do to protect your online reputation if you absolutely can’t ignore it is to defeat it with positive information. If the negative information is on a blog or on a social networking site, respond in the comments section on the profile and give only facts to clear your name, and then walk away. DO NOT argue with the original poster.
Next, use SEO and keywords and websites you can manage to bump your good information up higher in the search engines rankings so others cannot find the information that is damaging your online reputation.
Lastly, the best thing you can probably do after you’ve protected yourself where possible, is to just ignore the reputation damaging information. If you know it’s not true, and you have a good online presence in every other way, chances are no one will put any stock in anything they read about you online that’s damaging to your reputation. Anyone who would isn’t really anyone you’d want to associated with anyway.
It’s not a matter of taking one on the chin, but rather, not adding fuel to a raging fire that will eventually burn itself out.
Your online reputation is important, but you don’t always get to control what’s said about you, so protect your online reputation by always presenting your best foot forward, and not making yourself a target.