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3 ways the internet can tarnish your reputation instantly

By Elizabeth Grich

The internet allows for real-time fact-checking and questioning and can take pains to verify every statement you make.


A frustrated man.The internet has become an integral part of our lives: helping us connect faster and with ease, keeping a plethora of information at our fingertips, and allowing us to work in real time from anywhere. These are just a few of the internet’s many benefits. It has also brought social media and various platforms to do business and hear individual voices from across the globe. This year, Statista reported over 4.5 billion people using social media. While this opens many avenues for PR, it can also create some problems. 


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Reputations take a long time to build and can fall in seconds. Brian Koslow, president and CEO of Breakthrough Coaching Inc., said, “There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.” You must care for a positive reputation and know how to avoid blunders that can damage them.


  1. Not fact-checking

Fact-checking your work may seem tedious, but it is important. With billions of voices being heard and billions of people consuming this information, someone is bound to double-check what they hear. We learn not to believe everything we hear on the internet, so these fact-checkers are just doing their due diligence.


This means the responsibility lies in your hands to ensure any information you share on the internet is accurate. Double- and triple-check your information, and always cite your sources. Remember: Sources can be biased, so ensure you use a trusted and reputable source when searching for information.


  1. Being offensive

This one may seem obvious, but online sensitivity is more important now than ever. Things that seemed OK previously are unacceptable now, and consumers can easily take statements out of context. With cancel culture looming on social media, it is crucial to respect all groups and populations. A slip-up can spread like wildfire and ruin an entire company or individual in a blink of an eye.


To avoid attacks from the internet, you need to do your homework. Hopefully nothing offensive ever comes up in your content, but having multiple, diverse sets of eyes look over your work can reveal issues you weren’t aware of. Unfortunate coincidences may go unnoticed at first glance, but you can be sure that someone else on the internet will catch it. Keep up with what is going on in the world, follow your best judgment, and don’t be afraid to apologize if you do make a mistake.


  1. Not upholding company standards on personal profiles

Whether it be an employee or the CEO of a company, the people associated with brands represent those brands. While everyone has the right to freedom of speech, your personal information and statements can negatively affect the brand you work with.


A good rule of thumb to follow is if you wouldn’t want your child seeing it, don’t post it. Word gets out quickly, and you wouldn’t want to lose your job over something as small as a Facebook post. For companies, set standards and expectations of how employees should conduct themselves online. For individuals, keep your accounts private and think before you post. Once something is on the internet, it is there forever.

The world of social media and cultural climate is constantly changing, so do yourself a favor and keep up with it. It may seem daunting, but when it comes to the internet, be accurate, be kind, and be smart. If you would like to hear more about how to avoid social media blunders, check out our webinar reviewing common social media mistakes companies make.


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Photo by Andrew Neel

Topics: online public relations, online reputation management

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