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Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Online Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier by David Thompson, Michael Fertik

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CHAPTER
Imagine a place where anonymous vandals can spray repugnant
graffiti about you or your business without any consequence. They
may call you a criminal, accuse your business of fraud, or reveal your
most personal secrets. And this graffiti is viewed not only by a hand-
ful of passersby—instead, it is spread worldwide and instantly broad-
cast to anyone who looks for information about you. You cant remove
the smear, and copies of it are permanently saved around the world.
Sound frightening? You dont have to imagine this scenario. It
happens every day on the Internet. The victims are innocent peo-
ple—parents, teachers, students, managers, workers, craftsmen, busi-
ness owners, and more. Real personal reputations are being trashed
with just a few mouse clicks, real businesses are losing thousands of
customers due to false reports online, and real relationships are be-
ing destroyed by anonymous gossip.
Welcome to the
New Digital Frontier
1
The Internet has changed the rules for reputation. Once, repu-
tation was hard-earned and carefully guarded. Today, your reputa-
tion can be created or destroyed in just a few clicks. And there are
plenty of people who seek to destroy your reputation: bullies, people
jealous of your success, competitors for jobs or customers (or even
loves), and gangs of disaffected teenagers. The Internet gives them
the power to permanently scar your reputation. They harness the
power of Google™ and the Web to broadcast false and distorted in-
formation about you and your business to your closest friends and
most distant customers. They can manipulate your photos, steal your
secrets, and ruin your credit. If you are prepared, you can defend
yourself from these attacks. But if you arent careful, you can just
make matters worse by fanning the flames.
Dont even think of ignoring the Internet’s impact on your repu-
tation. The Internet is not some passing fad; it is here to stay. It is the
primary source of information about people, products, services, and
companies. Even if you dont use the Internet, your boss, your cus-
tomers, your neighbors, your friends, and your family do. What they
find online will shape how they think about you, for better or worse:
they could find slanderous allegations or shocking photos posted by
a digital Peeping Tom; your business might be the subject of an on-
line boycott or an urban legend about your business might spread
through social discussion sites; or your relationships might be poi-
soned by false gossip. The worst part is that once false information
about you is spread online, it can start a self-sustaining cycle that
spreads it further and faster than you thought possible.
Luckily, the well prepared can still prosper on this new digital
frontier. The Internet is not something to be afraid of; instead, it is
a tremendous opportunity to shape the way that people see you or
your business. Careful monitoring of your online reputation (or that
of your business) combined with delicate intervention can help you
make sure that your online image is a true reflection of reality. Often,
by acting quickly you can stop online attacks and set the record
straight. And careful seeding of positive truthful content will help
Wild West 2.02

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