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I Was Shamed Online: Recovering From Public Shaming

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You don't get a second chance to make a first impression, today your first impression is usually what search engines have to say about you.

As someone who was an early target of online shame, I frequently share that although I won a landmark case for internet defamation and invasion of privacy, the internet never forgets.

I was delivered my digital Scarlet Letter in 2003 when a mom on a mission decided to attack me with her keystrokes. The accusations were horrific and left me both emotionally and financially crippled for years.

Recovering from public shaming can be a long and tedious process.

From parent shaming to baby bashing to being humiliated for your less than flattering moments, our online reputation can follow us through our potential dates to job interviews and loss of career opportunities.

I tell my audiences that my lawyer vindicated me, but it was online reputation management (ORM) that gave me my life and career back.

Isn't it strange, the very weapon that destroys your life -- is actually the tool that will rebuild you again?

In 2006, with the help of ORM, it was time to rebuild my digital platform. Although social media hadn't arrived yet, it was still about telling my story through websites and blogs. Sharing with my readers who I am and what I represent. As social platforms started opening up, I signed up for them -- constantly building my online presence.

Fast-forward to today.

Social media is here and there are many ways you can use it to rebuild your online life.

How can you recover from public shaming?

1. Assess the situation: This starts with looking at page one of your search results – the part of your online reputation that can stick for years or indefinitely even.

While tweet storms are usually temporary, the first page of the search results are more long lasting and it’s what the vast majority of people will look at before interacting or doing business with you, so this is a key area to review.

2. Avoid interacting with the attacker: Often the first reaction is to respond directly to your attacker in a public fashion. Don't. It’s almost always better in the long run to refrain. Responding online can extend the visibility of the shaming, harassment, or incident.

3. Change the conversation by building positive online content: Ultimately, you want to create better content than what already exists to give search engines a reason to rank your new material over existing content. The easiest way to create new content is through free blogging sites, like WordPress or Medium. Make sure the content you create is high quality and at least 1,000 words long. Also include a biography, some photographs, and discussions related to your areas of expertise, professional accomplishments, and community service.

Most important, being proactive before a disaster strikes can help ease the impact of damage to your online reputation.

Staying vigilant and monitoring yourself regularly is so important. There are multiple free tools to help understand and monitor online mentions as well as Google Alerts or free online monitoring services.

How can you avoid being a target of public shaming? Click here.

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