By DART TIGLAO
When your personal reputation is attacked online, your mind and body will react as if they were in a physically dangerous situation. To deal with the situation, remember to keep an objective perspective and an understanding of the human psyche.
Here are the basic steps:
ASSESS THE SITUATION
Counterintuitively, vividly imagine the worst case scenario. Will it permanently end your career, ruin a family relationship, or even land you in jail? Write down how long you need, and things you need to do, to get back on track and recover from damages. This powerful stoic-based exercise will give invaluable insights on how to approach the situation.
Do a brief study of the attack. Who and what is the source? Is it intentional or just a misguided information about you? Is the attack in one platform and medium?
Inform your closest, most trusted person/s of the situation. This could be your husband/wife, a best friend or your business partner. Not just for moral support, but they could also be as vulnerable as you are in the situation and therefore have the right to prepare themselves as well.
PLAN AND GATHER
List down all your social media accounts and other online assets. Check your Google rankings. Reach out to trusted contacts who may have skills to help you: lawyers, PR consultants, and professionals in media and Internet industries. A valuable resource is someone who has gone through a similar situation.
Take screenshots and use the site archive.org to take permanent snapshot records of web pages that can be useful in court.
Review the rules and guidelines of the platform where the attack happened. Know how to report a complaint on Youtube and Facebook. Have a basic understanding of news cycles in journalism.
For most cases, nothing else will be needed after assessment and planning. Many attacks fizzle out on their own (see again news cycle), or victims resolve to live with the situation and not make it worse.
Otherwise, prepare a spreadsheet of all the activities you will be doing with people and resources you will be using to help you.
Send a firm but non-threatening and non-legalese appeal to the attacker to resolve the situation. Prepare a statement for people who need to know about the situation (ex: shareholders, friends and other relatives).
Secure and strengthen your online assets: change passwords. Review and update your public profiles. Look for vulnerabilities such as old posts that may be incriminating and could be used against you. You may need to build new assets but do not be overreactive in creating new content to bury the situation.
MONITOR AND REVIEW
Closely monitor if the attack is gaining more traction for at least two weeks. Take action accordingly using the spreadsheets of your activities.
Review the root of the situation and your worst case scenario exercise. What can be done to prevent a similar situation? What changes and decisions offline should you be reevaluating?
Your reputation is important but remind yourself that the Internet creates for each of us an information bubble that distorts reality and makes everybody react quickly and emotionally.
This, too, shall pass – faster than you think.
About the Writer
Dart Tiglao is an Internet business strategist and online reputation expert with over 15 years of experience. Former newswire reporter, turned web designer turned entrepreneur, Dart is hired as a consultant by top 100 Philippine firms, celebrities, and business executives for his problem-solving skills ranging from branding to sales. He has also held workshops for the Philippine Senate, Philippine Press Institute, and other organizations. He is an avid outdoors person who trains in caving, free-diving, and open water swimming.
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