Websites and internet media don’t play by the same rules as traditional means of communication. Neither private individuals nor major firms are secure from online defamation, but the latter can more easily afford the cost of cleanup. As Paul Gallant writes in Medium, a multimillion-dollar industry has arisen to mitigate – but usually not eliminate – the problem of online slander and reputation damage. The fact that most internet searchers don’t read past the first dozen entries is one line of defense.
The “reputation fixer” industry has grown dramatically in recent years.
Sophisticated public relations firms handle the problem of internet defamation as part of a suite of services for their clients, but so do mom-and-pop firms specializing in digital makeovers for smaller clients and individuals.
Matt Earle, for example, got started enhancing his client images online, then he founded Reputation.ca in 2011 to specialize in fixing reputational problems. His firm has a staff of two dozen people and is part of an industry worth more than $200 million each year.
Businesses can quickly lose most of their trade if they suffer a negative review online. Former employees or other ill-wishers may use a range of ploys to get revenge. Cures are not quick. Once a reputation fixer starts working on cleaning up your name or fixing your company’s bad buzz, mitigating the problem can take the better part of a year and cost...