A cautionary tale

This really interesting article from The Guardian was doing the rounds on social media this weekend: ‘Overnight, everything I loved was gone’: the internet shaming of Lindsey Stone.

It demonstrates how easily your internet life can be hijacked, sometimes after a single tweet posted by you or others, and how that can have potentially disastrous repercussions for your offline life.

If I were a teacher or parent of teenagers, I’d urge them to read this article. In fact I’m sure we all could benefit from taking a moment to consider what lessons we can learn from this. The fact is that the throwaway comments or ‘in jokes’ you might safely share with people you know offline can take a whole new meaning when typed out and shared with the world online. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. But the internet can be a very unforgiving place.

It also reiterates the importance of brand building, not just for companies, but for people too. And once you’ve built that brand, you need to look after and protect it. As the article sadly demonstrates, sometimes your reputation can be rubbished online in a very short space of time, and through no fault of your own. But there are also plenty of silly mistakes you can learn to avoid.

I was fascinated to read about how Lindsey Stone was being helped to repair her online reputation with the aid of content creation, designed to fool search engines into pushing the results about her earlier misdemeanour further down the rankings. And it worked – but it requires an ongoing concerted effort with content being churned out to keep repressing those stories from two years ago.

None of us wants to be in the position that Lindsey finds herself in, and I hope that she is able to genuinely move on and stop living in fear of one past mistake constantly resurfacing. For her sake and for all those other women who share her name!

But certainly I would urge you to read this article, and bear in mind what lessons we – both as individuals and as guardians of brands online –  need to learn.

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