Mud-slinging and reputations

Treacherous waters by Jon Stow

Muddy waters

Two people I am acquainted with (and you will find no clue here as to who they are) have had really bad things posted about them on other people’s websites. One has suffered mainly innuendo about his business activities. The other has had an outright accusation that he is dishonest and a liar.

The guy who is a victim of innuendo has an unusual name. He looked much worse when Googled a few years ago because he had no other on-line representation as a distraction. Now he has had positive things written about him and some of the really unpleasant stuff is behind a requirement to register as a user of the website, so Google cannot see his name directly in connection with the negative comments any more.

So in the innuendo case, we have someone who has built or had built for him a really positive on-line reputation and at the same time a lot of the nasty material has been hidden from Google, luckily for him.

The other person, yes, another guy, has a common name. He has no on-line presence other than a direct and easily-found accusation when his name is entered in a search engine together with that of the company of which he is a serving director. The comment about him would certainly be actionable if untrue. As he has not had it removed, the casual researcher might assume it was true, but of course litigation is expensive and maybe he cannot afford it or has chosen to take a view that not many people will check on him. That would be an incorrect assumption I would have thought. I don’t know the truth and would think twice about doing business with him.

How can all this be fixed if not through the courts?

Reputations on-line have to be built or re-built. Reputations off-line will follow. My acquaintance with the common name needs to be much more active.

  • He needs to be active on LinkedIn.
  • He needs to adopt and be active on a couple of other social networking sites.
  • He needs to post on Google+.
  • He needs a personal or business website where he is active in producing good content. A static site will not do.
  • He needs to get involved with positive initiatives in business so that the “Joe Bloggs” associated with the possible libellous comments towards his company are drowned out in the positive noise he generates elsewhere.

If he does all that then someone such as myself could take it into account in doing the proper due diligence before business.

Activity!

Yes, the key is activity. Being proactive.

Reputations are so precious. I haven’t had to deal with such a nasty problem, but if I did I would use the law early (and we should have insurance for this), and then I would drown out the bad stuff with lots of positive on-line output and demonstrate my value in deeds as well as words. That is what we strive for anyway, but we need to manage our reputations all the more carefully if there is someone or some people who are bearing a grudge.

Have you had mud slung at you professionally? What did you do?

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