The growing use of the internet and social media have created a new challenge for High Net Worth Individuals (“HNWI”), business owners, and high profile individuals (collectively “targeted individuals”). Due to such statuses, they are being targeted and closely watched by the media and by private citizens. These targeted individuals have little to almost no privacy and in many cases, they are victim to being the subject of online blogposts, articles, and even a topic on Twitter conversations where users comment on the way they dress, their behaviour in public, or even more personal matters happening in their life. These targeted individuals, who have a substantial influential role in communities, can often fall prey to an anonymous denigrator who usually floods the internet with misleading and/or inaccurate information because he or she is an antagonist or would make a gain from ruining that individual’s reputation.
There is no one person in society that does not get impacted from defamatory statements but HNWI, business owners, and high profile individuals, as well as the close people around them, are at high risk of being targeted by internet trolls, criminals, and even private citizens. These risks and damages has made Adjustment services (legal online reputation management) of interest to many of lecocqassociate’s clients.
Below are a few key reasons why targeted individuals are increasingly conducting deep-searches on the internet and know your client (“KYC”) screening databases as well as using Adjustment services to understand and know what is said about them, to assess their reputational risk, and to positively impact their online reputation.
1. “Right to be Forgotten” is not widely known nor requested
Although the European Union’s directive on the “Right to be Forgotten” has been in force for some time now, there are many individuals who are unaware of their rights. Additionally, there are many articles, blog content, and public legal records that have not been taken down which still flag up on KYC screening databases today. So unless someone has stumbled upon an article or has been denied an application for opening a bank account, an individual is not aware of these negative articles or links. Moreover, in order to enforce the “Right to be Forgotten” one must be proactive and get help from a legal data protection expert.
2. Origins of defamatory statements are hard to find online, but they may be removed
When an individual, their family member, or their organisation is in the negative spotlight on the internet, it can be impossible to find who is the ringleader for it. In fact, there are numerous service providers who offer to help conceal the location and the person who registered the domain. Finding the culprit is one thing, but having that piece of inaccurate content removed is another issue. It is not unusual for these website owners and operators to ignore removal requests of inaccurate and misleading articles. However, with a legal representative sending out the request of removal on your behalf, it almost never goes unnoticed.
3. “Being invisible online will keep me safe” is a myth
It is common for targeted individuals to have no form of identity online, but that actually is a risk. Not “owning your name” online means that you have no “digital defence”. In other words, the names of these individuals who do not possess high-ranking entries and profiles on various search engines would not be able to block third-party misleading articles and blog posts from appearing on the first pages when their name is searched online.
Although Google aims to feed its audience with correct and accurate information with the help of “bots” to ensure relevant information is pushed up, if targeted individuals do not intentionally put some form of information – whether it be a LinkedIn profile – Google’s “bots” may unintentionally unearth defamatory content and place it on the first page of its search results. When misleading information of targeted individuals is found on the first page of Google’s search results, this can cause adverse effects on their professional and personal lives – from losing personal relationships to even having difficulties in conducting day-to-day banking or commercial activities.
If you are not fully aware of your online reputation or feel that you are a target or have been a victim of defamation, get in touch with our Adjustment team today for an online risk assessment report. It is always better to have a proactive approach, rather than be reactive when it comes to your online presence.