Several weeks ago I read a blog post of a fellow Virtual Assistant who was having problems with her online identity. There had been accusations and defamatory things said about her as an individual on a so-called complaint website. If you Google her name, this website shows up on page one of the search. The anonymous comments are very damaging to her.
Why is this a big deal? Because if potential clients Google her, they will see this. And would a potential client want to hire her after seeing these legitimate-looking derogatory comments about her? Probably not.
So what can she do? There’s the obvious of contacting the person who posted these comments…except one thing. There are two and they’re both anonymous. So she did the next best thing and contacted the complaint website. They refuse to do anything because they don’t want to violate anyone’s right to free speech… however, for almost $5,000 a year they will allow her into their special program to defend herself against these allegations.
Yep, I hear you. What?! She has to pay almost $5,000 to this complaint website to clear her name of these unsubstantiated personal attacks?
As of the date of her post, she had contacted the attorney general’s office in her state to see if they will do something about this situation and was waiting to hear back from them.
So how can you protect yourself? First, just like identity theft, hope that you don’t cross paths with the wrong person! Other than that, there’s not much you can do to actually protect yourself. If you’re online, the risk exists.
You can, however, monitor your online identity. Google your name, as well as your company name. Anything come up besides your website, blog, social media sites, and legitimate other sites (testimonials, blog comments, membership sites, etc.)?
To keep you updated in case something is posted on the Internet about you or your company, you can set up Google Alerts that will either e-mail you immediately, once a day or once a week. The keyword you want to be notified would be your name, for one, and then your company name. While you’re in there, set up Google alerts so you can receive notifications when blogs or websites are posted with keywords from your industry. I have mine set to notify me for anything with “virtual assistant,” “virtual assistance,” and “Infusionsoft.”
If something negative or derogatory shows up, what should you do? Just like this other VA, if you can contact the poster, contact them. If not, then the website. If neither of those gets you anywhere you could hire an attorney, or go to your state representatives and see if there’s anything that can be done.
This particular VA is also working on things like submitting more posts and articles, getting her name other places to push the offending website further down in the search engine results.
If you’re running into problems, let me know and I’ll see if I can help you!