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July 7, 2009



by stevenwyer

Tens of thousands mourned today as Michael Jackson’s gold coffin lay at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Millions more watched on TV.

Across the nation movie theaters sold tickets so that the spectacle could be viewed as a larger than life experience. Yet as fans everywhere stopped to show their respect, Michael was assaulted.

Michael Jackson was called “monster” and “faggot” and his sexual orientation and conduct was bantered about as though he could somehow defend himself. Yes, this is the wonder of the Internet. MySpace, WordPress, YouTube and hundreds of thousands of blogs and forums allow anyone to attack anyone–even the dead. As we mark the halfway point of 2009, online slander and anonymous writers around the world attack at will without repudiation.

Anyone studying this issue for more than five minutes would draw the conclusion that online reputation management needs are reaching critical proportions. Without the traditional defense of the court systems, absent conventional conflict resolution by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and lacking the common sense of going face-to-face with your accuser, the options for online self defense are few.

While someone of Michael Jackson’s stature has no reason for anyone to come to his defense, almost everyone else needs help. Being deceased has its benefits. Words no longer hurt; his interviews seemed to always include statements of pain from allegations and hateful speech. Michael Jackson will no longer deal with vicious uncalled-for attacks on him. For the rest of us however, the war continues to rage. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses continue to be slandered without any validation of the anonymous claims made. Business damaged, income lost and names slandered, all without being able to rebut the accusations.

The only cost affective recourse may be Search Engine Reputation Management. While not perfect and not always 100% effective, it remains the most direct and cost effective method for quickly addressing negative postings. Is it far reaching to tie Michael Jackson’s memorial service to online slander? Consider that the day Michael Jackson died there was such bandwidth consumed by social media that sites like Twitter were actually knocked down for a time. Consider the fact that literally millions of complaints are posted and available to anyone at any time. Social media creates the conduit for opinions that might be questioned if voiced through traditional media sources. We have moved way past George Carlin’s “seven words that can’t be used on TV”. As you prepare to express yourself regarding today’s events remember to respect those who have passed on…and also those who remain. RIP.

-Steven Wyer

Steven C. Wyer is the Managing Director of Reputation Advocate, LLC ( The firm specializes in online reputation management services for both individuals and companies. Steven Wyer can be reached at 888-229-0746.


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