There was a time in the not so distant past when it was necessary to do serious research in order to find important information on a person or business. As we enter 2013 we now know that anyone with Internet access can find out just about anything they want to know. As a result, a single mistake can follow a person for decades, often impacting the most basic aspects of life, love and employment.
Through dozens of public information sites, data aggregators and government records a very clear picture can be pieced together of who the Internet believes you to be. The challenge is to create a check and balance for this public information that presents a complete picture of the “public” you. As you consider all of this, take a look at what is currently found online about you and your business.
Here are a few sites that may hurt your online reputation:
- Professional complaint sites: Notable sites in this category include ripoffreport.com., ComplaintsBoard.com and PissedConsumer.com While these sites can provide a valuable service in pinpointing businesses and professionals with bad intentions, they are open to tampering. Given the site’s openness to “free speech,” anyone can post anything without moderation. Standing firmly on the First Amendment allows these sites to deliver content that has not been monitored, reviewed or researched for accuracy.
- Review sites: When you’re seeking a good place to eat dinner, repair your car or have a dental checkup, review sites can come in handy. If you’re looking for a plumber or electrician, review sites can be invaluable. However, consumers have become so trusting of review sites, they often fail to realize not everyone posting information is honest. That negative post about an insurance agency, for instance, could have been posted by a competing agency in the same town trying to steer business toward themselves.
- Criminal background: Sites like Mugshots.com, LookWhosBusted.com and state arrest sites prominently rank in search engine results, displaying a person’s arrest history long after the crime was committed. While the information posted on these sites is from actual records, these sites do not reflect the outcome of the arrest. This leaves room for a great deal of suspicion on the part of the person finding the results and a great deal of shame impacting the one arrested. Even if the outcome of such an arrest is innocence or even expungement it inhibits a person from moving on, since the actual image from the booking record remains.
- Dating sites: There are several sites that allow online daters to rate each other. Anyone who has ever used a site like match.com knows that you’re often subjected to a series of bad dates before finding the right person–if you find that person at all. Sites that allow your one-time bad dates to rate you and write their personal opinions of you for all the world to see can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life. There are even more damaging sites like Cheaterville.com, where anyone can post information about an alleged “cheater.” People post pictures and intimate details, including a person’s full name, city of residence, and workplace. Whether someone believes an unfaithful spouse deserves this kind of exposure, the site takes no measures to verify that the information is true. The professional damage that can come from a site like this is undeniable.
Pain comes in many forms. The shame, anger or embarrassment experienced from online information creates very real pain. However, restoration and prevention are available to those willing and capable of taking decisive action. 3Ci offers advisory services that allow clients to gain a foothold for real solutions to the Internet’s most challenging issues.