Make us your home page

Trashed online? Act quickly to protect your reputation

It can take a long time — if ever — to undo damage caused by comments on the Internet. Scathing posts can tarnish reputations for people and businesses, and the snarkiest stuff can go viral before you know about it. That's why it's good for job applicants, professionals, business owners and public relations professionals to do frequent search engine sweeps to see what's out there about you (or could be confused with you).

You may need a lawyer to help remove libelous stuff. But you also might be able to counter unfavorable postings without lawsuits or threats.

If a posting is provably false, you may have luck asking the site's webmaster to remove it. Many webmasters, though, will say they're not in the business of dispute resolution and won't delete a comment simply because you want it gone.

Some comment victims have used Google's tool that flags offending URLs, paving the way for Google crawlers to eventually drop an offending URL from search results. But that won't work for, say, bad reviews that are posted on legitimate comment sites such as

Some companies and people hire reputation- or brand-management companies. These firms do online searches and help respond to unfavorable posts. That includes generating positive posts to counter negative ones. Just don't get caught writing your own glowing reviews; that's an ethical minefield.

Your posted responses should be factual. Businesses countering a bad review should apologize if warranted and offer a resolution if possible. It's also fine to ask satisfied customers to write reviews, perhaps crowding out the bad ones.

People who are damaged online might do better responding offline. If you think a prospective or current employer is seeing bad things about you, use the phone, email or regular mail to rectify rather than staging a war of words online.

Trashed online? Act quickly to protect your reputation 03/03/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 3, 2014 4:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.