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Legal Daily News Feature

Social Media, Laws Give Rise to Proliferation of Online Reputation Management By Rebecca E. Neely Perhaps tycoon Warren Buffett said it best: ‘’It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.’’ profession have oft been criticized for being unable to keep pace with these changes.

01/05/12 Indeed. With the proliferation of technology and connectivity, along with the rise of social media platforms, has come the ability for information, comments, and opinions to be made known around the globe in an instant. The advantages and disadvantages of this are immediately obvious, especially in the case of consumer feedback websites.

posted by an unrelated third party who uses the website and/ or service,” per the article. This language is what has allowed websites like PissedConsumer.com not only to be created, but has afforded users of the site protection, regardless of what they post. However, it’s most likely no stretch to say that even if the laws were changed, it would be a tiger by the tail to enforce new regulations and companies would no doubt still be in need of online reputation management.

According to the December 28th prnewswire.com press release, “UNDER ATTACK: Americans Fight Back Against False and Defamatory Comments on PissedConsumer.com”, consumer websites such as PissedConsumer.com, a for-profit consumer feedback portal, are apparently not taking efforts to ensure that the information posted at the site is indeed factual – nor do they need to, according to federal law. While this has clearly spawned disastrous results for businesses, it’s also created an opportunity for damage control, in the form of online reputation management firms.

The sometimes fraudulent comments posted at consumer feedback websites have caused all types of companies to suffer loss of reputation, income, and customers, as well as stress. The solution? Companies like Reputation Changer step in and clean up the mess. How? Through a focused campaign of not only controlling the negative information, but concentrating on positive, true facets of a business and its mission. In addition, Reputation Changer’s software tracks both the company’s name and any negative feedback in real time, allowing for instantaneous damage control.

Said firms have faced challenges in providing their services because of certain laws put in place by the federal government that protect websites like PissedConsumer.com. Incredibly, consumer feedback websites such as these are protected by law from any and all liability. This means anything can be posted about an individual or company, and the website has no responsibility to look into, or take down the false information.

Attorney James Morgan suffered a number of fraudulent postings, and made use of the services of Reputation Changer. He was quoted as saying in the press release: “It felt like my law office was under attack and it all started because of a false accusation and defamatory posting on PissedConsumer.com. All of a sudden, everything snowballed. Potential and current clients would search my name on Google and pull up this bad information. Our core business turned into daily explanations on how this information wasn’t true or representative of the business that we did. Clients started leaving and the phone stopped ringing, I thought we were going to have to close the doors, but then we discovered Reputation Changer.”

Passed in 1996, the Communications Decency Act (CDA) was originally instituted by the U.S. Congress so as to control the proliferation of pornography online. However, it turned out to be somewhat of a double edged sword – Section 230 of the Act permitted broad interpretation. In other words, the section reads: “the operator of a website or an Internet-based service could not be considered a traditional “publisher,” and hence could not be held legally liable for any words or comments

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Founded in 2009, Reputation Changer has provided services for politicians, professional athletes and high profile public personalities, in addition to Fortune 500 companies.

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