Which Reputation Problems Are Most Common?
The following sections highlight obvious and not-so-obvious events and circumstances that either directly or indirectly generate reputation problems for people and businesses.
Product and service type vertical markets and certain industries in general sometimes give rise to skepticism or collective misunderstanding about the nature of the products and services available. Beyond an individual entity’s reputation, industries themselves can acquire a bad reputation that leads to difficulty in marketing and growth for businesses trying to operate under that particular market umbrella.
Negative news and editorial content amount to a significant percentage of reputation problems in today’s society. Journalists, editors and media agencies have the ability to publish stories and announcements about anyone, and any business, covering any one of the scenarios listed here.
Certain topics are more likely to receive news coverage than others, but any entity and circumstance featured in the news automatically receives an increased amount of visibility.
News sites typically sustain large audiences and readership retention. Combine that with strong domain authority and the trust media websites maintain with search engines, any published content on these sites gains traction and top placement quickly.
From FBI investigations and FDA enforcement reports, to disbarred lawyers and criminal convictions, lawsuits and related legal documents have their place in digital content publishing.
Many of the regulatory and enforcement filings that have publication consistency are the automatic output from system generated document sharing and filing processes used by local and national government IT infrastructures. Others are the manual archiving and sharing by officials at various organizations and associations.
Digital photo publishing, archiving, and sharing frequently result in unfavorable images appearing in both regular web search and image search results.
Many different events and circumstances result in unwanted visible images, and dozens of Internet platforms exist specifically for sharing image content. Some of these sites, like the ones with millions of arrest mug shots, are engineered to scrape and republish public record databases.
Similar to mug shots and image platforms, many websites have been developed to source and republish court case filings and arrest records.
Engineers behind the more sophisticated versions of these platforms incorporate advanced technology that curates the gathered content for the reproduction of unique profiles on people and businesses, which the search engines respond to positively with prominent placement for related searches.
Anyone can create and publish a scam or ripoff report on anyone or any business. Websites like ripoffreport.com and scamgroup.com are among the dozens of platforms that allow any person to publicly announce fraudulent allegations in a rich content format.
The search engines grant these scam report websites priority in search results and neither the sites nor search engines perform much, if any, due diligence on the people filing the complaints or the content being published.
Business and product consumer reviews are now an expected form of information across the landscape of online commerce. Kids, parents, business owners, and professionals, literally anyone with the ability to purchase a product or subscribe to a service can provide a review based on their experience.
Online consumer reviews have become a standard in our digital society and there are hundreds of different website platforms in existence with the sole purpose of ingesting and rendering these user generated reviews to the public.
Since the dawn of capitalism (before it was a concept actually) businesses have endured a competitive landscape. The Internet with all the options for publishing and the widespread visibility of content is a supercharged medium for competition, and attacks on competitors. Attacks materialize in the form of fake reviews, negative press, dispassionate blog posts, manipulated images, even hacking and assaults on website servers.
Unlawful use of trademarked names, service marked images, and copyrights can result in multiple types of reputation problems. The case where an ethical or unethical business infringes on a competitor name or logo can become a news story or lawsuit which compromises the infringing party, while the infringed business or owner of the legally protected content suffers from public confusion and reductions in brand loyalty.
Tax evasion, money laundering, extortion, hedge fund fraud, foreclosure and bankruptcy fraud, lottery scams, homeowner and senior citizen fraud, and any type of socially or legally objectionable scandal will quickly find its place into online editorial and scam report platforms. The bigger the crime, the larger the announcement, and broader the impact.
Organized groups advocating hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of race, ethnicity, nation, religion, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, or any other designated sector of society often have independently owned and operated websites dedicated to the publishing of opinions and content. Members or advocates of these groups often cloak themselves as anonymous users on other sites where they promote animosity, hostility, and malice against a person or entity.
Also known as domain or name squatting, the registering, trafficking, and/or use of other entity names are a common tactic of people endeavoring to profit from the goodwill of a name or trademark belonging to someone else. Domain names, user accounts, and other properties can be purchased, secured, or controlled by another non-authentic party, who then may use the property or account to exploit or extort the authentic party.
Commonly referred to as look-alikes and doubles, it is not uncommon for a person or public figure to have a doppelganger. In some instances, doppelganger images and behavior can cause reputation problems for a person or public figure. Doppelganger images are frequently manufactured with graphic design programs and further promoted to gain visibility and attention. Many celebrities are so unfortunate to have doppelgangers of them in the pornography industry, taking the form of image and video content.
Seemingly less newsworthy, job and career changes and the reasons behind them can materialize into editorial news or content. Employment termination, conspiracy theories, and reallocations of human resources are sometimes featured in the media, causing problems for both individuals and businesses. Additionally, the employing company may feature a newly hired employee in a press release, causing a variety of unexpected personal and professional challenges for the person.
As it is with home ownership, marriage, business filings, and court cases, name changes are included in public record. Information in the public record, by its very nature, is available to the public. Many Internet websites exist for the sharing of public record information.
Invalid fake information can be manufactured by any person for any reason, and there are thousands of website platforms and tactics a person can use to publish or share information that may not be grounded in factual reality. Both people and businesses experience the impact of false information about them on the Internet.
Websites that offer social communities and personal or business profile options are a double-edged sword. Even though the larger platforms are becoming better at verifying the identities of user accounts, it is not a perfect science and most websites do not.
Fake profiles are created every day, sometimes in bulk, for the purpose of spamming, mass posting, or the sharing information for gain or profit, and these efforts can have compromising effects on people and businesses.
Privately owned websites with blogging features and public blog platforms offer aspiring writers opportunities to flex their journalistic muscles. Its not uncommon for businesses and individuals to realize a blogger has seemingly made it their mission in life to slander and defame them through a series of blog posts.
Blogging platforms are typically search engine friendly by default and some webmasters know how to make sure blog content achieves top placement and visibility for a brand, product, or person related search query.
People excuse themselves from employment or face termination from jobs for thousands of reasons, and many ex-employees feel empowered by taking their opinions and experiences public.
Similar to consumer review sites, job and employee review websites are ready to intake and display an employee’s experiences and reviews of the former company they worked for. Emotionally charged by their departure, many employees can perform serious damage to a former employer.
Industries, individuals, and unique entities are subject to online reputation damage resulting from any of the many possible events and scenarios explained above.