Online Defamation Defenders: The Tricky Areas Of Online Reputation Management
First things first—what happens when someone publishes ‘on the internet’ defamatory contents about an individual or a business? These contents may appear in many forms such as malicious attacks, misleading information, and sometimes outright lies and false allegations.
Well, as far as the US law is concerned, publishers online in most instances are not required to remove stuff posted on their sites or forums by a third-party. We stress the internet or the online aspects of these contents since in the physical world, things happen to be somewhat different.
A newspaper publishes something false and misleading, even in their reader’s column, and it is held responsible for the published content. A book publisher publishes a book containing something libelous, the court will not only order him to retract publication of the said book, but both the publisher and the editor may even get convicted.
Internet, However, Is a Different Place!
Talk of double standard and here we have the internet service providers, including site owners, providers of blogs, owners and moderators of online forums and such who are way less vulnerable to legal claims and actions. And this include search engines as well who, in the legal jargon, are defined as “interactive computer services”. The fact is that a few years back, lot of these big companies got together and then used their clout to have the Communications Decency Act legislated. According to this act, they can barely be held responsible for any third party content published via their systems. This is where the problems come in and our online reputation management services and protection becomes essential to your safety on the internet.
The customary argument was that internet commerce was a hugely progressive thing and if the companies are made to police and monitor every single thing published over the net, the growth of internet commerce will be stalled or may even die, etc…. (It is a different thing, however, when it comes to removing all copyrighted material from their systems. We notice extreme alacrity on the part of these very same “interactive computer services” in such matters! …And apparently, this hasn’t killed off the internet commerce!)
Online Reputation Management
Anyway, the reason for this rather long prelim on the subject is to drive the point home that if your reputation is attacked on the internet, you are, for the most part, out of luck. The one thing that may come to your rescue is the ORM or the Online Reputation Management industry, also known as online defamation defenders or Profile Defenders.
Now, from what we’ve said until now, it should be easy to realize that once something is published on the internet that shows you or your business in a negative light, it is pretty difficult, at least in the US, to altogether delete and erase that content.
This is not altogether impossible, however. For example, when it comes to Google reviews, business owners or individuals can make Google reviews remove unfavorable or unflattering content from Google Maps listings if the injured party can prove that the content in question is guilty of Google policy violations. And some of the things that qualify for Google removal include spam content and fake or off-topic reviews, reviews containing restricted content, hate speech, terrorist content, sexually implicit or illegal content and so on.
However, the task that reputable ORM companies focus most on is to build positive content for their clients so that the negative links or posts get overwhelmed and lose visibility. This is part of what we may call the direct reputation clean-up effort. And these efforts come with other benefits as well. They help you with your SEO efforts, build up collateral materials that serve to safeguard you from any future attacks and come with other marketing benefits as well.
So far, so good. However, the real problem occurs with some of those so-called ‘scam reporting’ sites. Most of these are, to speak in plain terms, no more than thinly veiled extortion rackets. They would deliberately publish (get published!) negative reviews about businesses on their sites and no matter how outrageously untrue the content is, there is no way you can make them delete those…unless, however you pay them (!), often via some so-called ORM services clearly in cahoots with them (another reason why the ORM industry often receives a lot of bad press).
There are many such sites operating right now, but for the time being, we would cite just one for now: Scamion.com. This is a site which started operating no sooner than in November last year but they have already succeeded in getting a high visibility in most search engine listings. And this means negative reports on Scamion can seriously hurt your business. And yet, forget removal requests, in most cases, you cannot even post your own responses beneath an allegation made against your business!
So, what do you do with them? Of course, the clean-up effort mentioned earlier will help to a good extent to offset the effects of those negative reviews. However, reportedly even some reputable ORM services actually pay these sites for content deletion, often in order to appease their clients.
And this, in our view, no online defamation defenders should ever do on their own and should always enlist in experts like us here at Profile Defenders the world wide leader in reputation repair since 2011. Since when you are paying these sites, you are actually helping them to stay in business and carry on with their nefarious practices.
So, in case you find that your white hat strategies are not yielding satisfactory results, the most sensible course of action you can take is to sue them. You’ll be glad to know that many businesses and ORMs have already taken this path, and successfully at that.