Do You Know What’s Being Said About You Online?

If there’s one area where the Internet has made a huge difference in our everyday lives, it’s with the amount of information that is now freely available to and about us. Just type some keyword phrases into Google and you can be privy to almost everything that’s ever been written about a person or company.

Yet this isn’t always a good thing, as a friend of mine recently found out.

Typing her name into Google, she found herself on the Rip Off Report website, under a list of false accusations about her. What makes it worse with the Rip Off Report website is that the owner protects the names of the accusers yet will quite happily publish any story or complaint without checking the facts.

Instead, the accused can issue a rebuttal but that’s it – the complaint (false or otherwise) stays on the site for the whole world to see.

This seems morally and ethically wrong to me. Unfortunately, it also seems fairly common when it comes to your online reputation. If anyone can go online and post lies about you or your business, the results can obviously be extremely damaging. While you can certainly take out a lengthy and potentially costly lawsuit, the damage has been done.

This is why it’s so important to keep tabs on what’s being said about you online. Although you may not be able to prevent something from being written, you can react to it a lot quicker. Some of the best methods of monitoring your online presence include:

  • Google Alerts. Still in Beta, Google Alerts allow you to type in a certain keyword or phrase and whenever that’s referred to online, you’ll be alerted.
  • Social Mention. Excellent tool that searches the web for any mention of you, your business or brand. Can take its time to find all the results but the information it retrieves makes the wait worthwhile.
  • Technorati. The “blog bible”, this site allows you to type in keywords, URL’s or tags and any posts that make a mention of these words will show up.

These are just some of the free methods you can use to keep track of what’s being said about you online. There are various professional business services available as well, if you need a more corporate-led approach.

Whichever one you choose to use, make sure you use it regularly. Otherwise you may find yourself in the same situation as my friend currently does – and a reputation can be a hard thing to rebuild once tarnished.

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  1. says

    This happened to a friend of mine as well, and it started to hurt her business, simply because someone was mad at her about something, so they purposely published false allegations under a false name. My friend found out and had to write a rebuttal, but it’s still hurting her.

    Trish´s last blog post..The Magic of Macy’s at Christmas

  2. says

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s experience, Trish. Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing problem with the ease in which information can be shared so quickly online.

    The only thing that can be done is counter-claiming and cleaning up the mess, it would seem. Meeting it head-on as opposed to hiding away, although it can be easier said than done.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your friend’s experience, and hopefully she’ll be viewed more positively sooner rather than later.

  3. says

    (im a trisha too).

    Trisha above is talking about me. Someone did that because they were mad at a BLOG i wrote, so they attacked my business, having never even purchased. Even said i fraudulently charged a credit card. I think ROR is shameful and is a scam. They make you pay them so they can “close” it and have been investigated for even making up material to add.

    Im just a mom that makes a few products from home, and i have never had a complaint. My business pays my car payment and my daughters schooling and it has really hurt me.

    Emotionally, it has been worse that people can use the internet to attack with zero repercussions, but to be honest, i have not ruled out a civil lawsuit. It wont cost me that much to file and is easily provable. And i can show it was false and caused me monetary damages.

    I am just trying to decide if i should civilly sue or consult an attorney.

    The thing is, once someone realizes that you talk about it and you face it, they do it again and again and again as punishment. Its pathetic, shameful, and embarrassing for those people.

    I am sorry about your friend.

    trisha@momdot´s last blog post..Blog Party!!!!!!!!

  4. says

    Hi Trisha.

    I’m really sorry to hear about your experience. Sites like the Rip Off Report really annoy me – how can they possibly allow information to go online without checking the facts? To me, that’s just exacerbating the problem, particularly as they have such a wide readership. It basically means open season for spiteful individuals to try and damage the reputation of otherwise innocent people as you’ve sadly found out.

    Taking legal action seems to be the only recourse (along with “damage reparation” via online methods) but as you say, the damage has been done, emotionally and professionally.

    There are various online regulatory bodies that should be able to do something, which I will be looking into for a future post. I know that doesn’t help you now, and I can only wish you all the best at tackling this individual in the way that’s best for you.

    Thanks for sharing your story – it seems there’s a lot of this going on.



  5. says

    I’d never heard of the ROR. I’m wondering if there’s a counter-strategy if you become a member of the Better Business Bureau and work diligently with them so you can point to that as an objective evaluation of your business practices.

    A tool I use to monitor online mentions is Social Media Firehose, which you can set to come into your Google Reader:

    I’m using it both for my employer and several key terms related to us, and for myself. Among other things, it’s helped me catch a few @ replies on Twitter that I might have missed. (As an aside that I should send to Twitter, why does Twitter show you the number of DMs you’ve had, but not the @ replies? That’s why I wasn’t clicking on that box in their interface–assumed that nothing on the home pg meant nothing behind that nav option.)


  6. says

    While working with the BBB is certainly advisable for any business to protect its name, unfortunately I doubt whether it would hold as much stead where the RoR is concerned. After all, this is a website where the owner happily boasts about printing anything and it’s up to the accused to change it (at a cost). Never has a website been so aptly named…

    I hadn’t heard of that tool – I will definitely check it out as it seems as if it could offer an invaluable source of information.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your info, Barb, always good to see you here. :)

  7. says

    That’s an excellent description, witchypoo – “word of keyboard”. That’s the problem with the ease a comment can be posted and the scale that it can reach. Old-style word of mouth may have been limited to your local area – online negative news traverses the world. Scary times…

  8. says

    It’s too bad that these people who want to say things like this always hide who they are. That’s the one bad thing about the internet; it breeds a lot of punks. But I’ve heard of other sites like this one. Maybe they need the tables turned on them by a community of bloggers that write about the site and the negatives of it. Maybe find a way to get 100 people to write about it all at once, and find a post (does it do posts) within its site to link to, as we would with a blog. I don’t know; I just hate bullies and people who hide behind the first amendment on things like this.

    Mitch´s last blog post..I Want More RSS Subscribers

  9. says

    I agree, Mitch, and that’s the main problem – the ones that generally do all the damage are the ones that hide the most. Surely if the claim was valid, then there wouldn’t be any need to hide?

    That’s actually not a bad idea that you have there – sometimes it takes that kind of “free PR” that no-one really wants to get a point across. Certainly food for thought…

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views, appreciate it and hope to see you around here again.