Managing your reputation is harder than it ever has been before. Before the internet, it was much more difficult to slander someone’s reputation, but now it’s as easy as pie. Literally. In the latest TM podcast, CEO Dwight Zahringer, Social Media Manager Michael L. Hoffman and PR and Communications Expert Dario Chiarini discuss how to protect yourself against “black hat” reputation management. This discussion is also the same topic Dwight will be presenting at PubCon Paradise this week.  But in order to know how to protect yourself, it’s crucial to know how “black hat” works.

There are hundreds of ways for someone to damage your reputation online, and knowing how they might do that is the first step in protecting your online identity. It doesn’t matter if you are a singular person, a company or a brand, reputation management is imperative. When a person sets out to hurt your reputation, they usually will impersonate you throughout many different mediums. This includes blogs, social networks and other websites. Claiming your name on these spaces, even if you aren’t utilizing them, is absolutely essential. What many impersonators will do is sign up for different profiles under your name and claim to be you.

One of the ways these “black hats” go about damaging your reputation is by doing all the research about you they can. This includes combing through public records as well as your social network profiles and other online connections. The wealth of information that is available is unbelievable and is easier to obtain than you might think. One of the biggest ways to combat having your reputation diminished is by claiming your name on as many online spaces as possible. One of the best services for this is called KnowEm. This service will help you reserve accounts across many different social networks in your name so they are not taken by people who aren’t you. It is especially valuable for people of high prestige.

But as Dwight states in both the podcast and presentation, it’s never a good idea to engage in this kind of reputation management. There are two perfect examples of this. The first belongs to Kuwaiti billionaire Bassam Alghanim. He was involved in a fight with his brother over a family fortune and hired Chinese hackers to break into his brother’s email account. And it only cost him $400. This shows how easy it can be to hire someone, for very little money, to run nefarious errands for you online.

Another example of “black hat” reputation management is the case of Jeremy Wakeman. Wakeman was pulled over and ticketed by Clinton Township Police Officer Michael Allis on May 4, 2011 and shortly thereafter started harassing Allis online. According to the Macomb Daily, he “was accused of creating a fake Facebook identity for … Allis … last May. He mocked Allis in postings and messages, and indirectly encouraged others to contact Allis for potential further harassment.” In January 2012, Wakeman pleaded guilty to cyberbullying the officer and is currently awaiting sentencing.

These are just two instances of how people can utilize the internet to damage your reputation. For more information about how to prevent “black hat” reputation management you can view the slides or listen to the podcast below.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

One Response to How to Protect Yourself Against ‘Black Hat’ Reputation Management

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