So last night I made my BBC Newsnight debut discussing Reputation Management and the impact of the new European Union strategy for dealing with personal data online. See it here on the BBC iplayer
In addition to getting a wonderful mention of Distilled on the BBC , I also managed to explain some of the difficulty around Reputation Management and why the EU strategy is not a fix-all solution. Here are some of the highlights:
The European Union Strategy or Right to Be Forgotten
The main points of this strategy are:
1) To provide clearer information around how people can remove images and text about themselves on social media sites and to provide more transparency around what is public information and what is 'private'
2) Allow more flexibility around moving your images and data from one site or social network to the next
3) More transparency around what is being done with user data and how companies might be sharing it
More information available on the BBC
Why this isn't Reputation Management
This measure is really only addressing the need for increased information and education around how to be careful online and how to try to protect users from the big bad social networking sites. However, it doesn't address the real issues of reputation management: that the most damaging stories for individuals and companies online usually come from blogs, news stories and other websites, which this policy would not offer any protection against. It also only covers areas which are already within the users' control and does not help people take back the control of what is being said about them in other locations online.
My points on the show highlighted what can be done when you have negative content ranking for your name and how we work with clients to improve their online reputation. They were pretty basic and included:
1) There are no secret tricks that can remove negative stories about you online - other than traditional legal proceedings - and in most cases those only get rid of the root of the problem, not all of the other areas where the story may have been picked up. The best you can do is to try to push down the negative content so that it doesn't rank for your name.
2) The best way to deal with a reputation management problem is to promote positive or neutral content that people don't mind ranking for, and in some cases this content can be optimised to outrank or push down the negative stories. The goal of this is to get the negative stories off of Page 1 where they do the most damage.
There were a number of other things mentioned that ended up being cut; perhaps it's all material for a follow-up post or an out-takes video!
Favourite Parts of the Program
1) Live search of my name
2) Awesome quote! "Knowing how the search engines work is crucial to keeping a lid on bad news stories or photos. More and more companies and individuals are turning to what is known as 'Search Engine Optimisation'"