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December 29, 2010

2010 in Review: Twitter, Facebook, Wiki-leaks, Online Reputation Management and Jillian Michaels

by stevenwyer

In an effort to summarize the past year as it comes to a close, here is the Steven C. Wyer Top Ten List for 2010. Because our company, Reputation Advocate, provides search engine reputation management and online reputation services, our perspective is a little different. We offer this brief summary in the hope that provoking you to thought will compel your awareness and action to manage your online reputation.

  • Facebook passed 500,000,000 subscribers and the movie Social Network became a box office hit. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, beat out Nancy Pelosi, Labron James, Lady Gaga and the Chilean miners to become Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.  Foreign leaders are clamoring for a private meeting with the twenty four year old multi-billionaire. You have to admit that this is pretty impressive considering no one had heard of Facebook five years ago. Oh, and did I mention that the company’s market value is forty billion dollars? Reputation Advocate believes that social media is here to say. From an online reputation management perspective you are more exposed than ever.
  • Online privacy issues came to the forefront on several levels but none as concerning as Google.  The company was forced to admit that they gathered a bit more information than previously disclosed as they captured images of every building found in cities, towns and villages around the world. In 2010 Google was sued for privacy violations by Germany, Spain and Switzerland…but not by the United States. Our government’s perspective is that Google didn’t mean to violate our right to privacy; it was an accident. No harm–no foul. NOT! If I was cynical I might believe that Google and the current administration were doing more than business as usual.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Google and Microsoft are bidding to provide cloud computing for our federal government! We believe that 2010 has been the year when the information found about you on search engines crossed the tipping point and there is no going back. Not being “on the Internet” is no longer an option so you had better take pro-active measures to insure that you know and influence what is found. Your online reputation depends on it!
  • Net neutrality is another 2010 buzzword that most people had never heard a year ago. This benign term will impact your life and your reputation both off- and online more than almost any other federal government action initiated in 2010. The concept of everything being “fair and equal” for Internet use sounds good. However, I am not in favor of putting the FCC in charge of something that is evolving into the control of access to the Internet when it influences almost every aspect of our daily lives. The operation of the Internet is too important to be left to the FCC, whose record of consistent failure in regulation starts with its control over radio back in 1912. The rise of an alternative technology is the best way to break the further intervention by the federal government into our lives. Give me free enterprise over government propaganda any day.
  • The power of social media struck in 2010 where it was least expected. Over the last twelve months social media sites have assisted the FBI in apprehending fugitives, provided virtual weddings and funerals that can be attended globally and broadcast births and suicides. People have gotten jobs, been fired, arrested and sued because of conduct exhibited online.  We have learned that pictures and video matter, that your personal information can be hacked and that no one really takes responsibility for the violations when they occur. Law officers now study the legal implications surrounding social networking.  Legal advisors confront law enforcement from First and Fourth Amendment considerations to liability and litigation issues.  Law enforcement is creating policies to govern law enforcement officers’ off-duty use of social media tools. Social media provides all users with an identity and a social footprint that follows them across the web.  It’s moving very fast and we had better acknowledge the speed at which this train is moving.
  • Google’s estimated 1,000,000 servers house an untold amount of information – about you. They have pictures of your house, have illegally obtained the IP address of your specific computers (unless your network is secure, and most aren’t) and Uncle Sam isn’t compelled to protect us. The government did, however, announce in April that every public tweet since Twitter’s inception in March 2006 would be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets! Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions. There now, don’t you feel safer? (Note to self: What happens in social media matters to you whether you like it or not.)
  • Internet complaint and online slander sites have grown from the hundreds to thousands. There is no legal recourse available to the millions of individuals and small businesses whose online reputations are attacked every day and the federal government continues to enforce federal laws that protect Internet service providers while leaving taxpayers totally exposed to anonymous attacks that can destroy lives, businesses and futures. Hundreds of unknown “online reputation management” companies located in Eastern Europe, Pakistan, India and other countries are either attempting to provide search engine reputation management services or promote online slander sites for profit…or both! Online reputation management has moved from throwing rocks at a complaint to client focused content creation, quality back links and broader online defensive strategies. Aside from strides made by online reputation repair service providers such as Reputation Advocate, there is no positive change foreseen in 2011 so you had better batten down the hatches because the online reputation storm is getting stronger.
  • So now that I have convinced you that the Internet isn’t as safe as you had hoped, let’s talk about local and location based marketing to cellular devices. Marketers have dreamed of this for years and 2010 was the year that it turned the corner. Estimates are that total revenue for 2010 will approach $1 billion. Much of this is driven by your street address or the GPS functions on your cell phone. It is a convenient set of services that cloaks the additional ability to track people. Everyone is so enthralled with location based social networks like Foursquare (currently adding 100,000+ new users a week) that little has been written in 2010 about the shadow side of services like this. But again, because of the online reputation management services that Reputation Advocate provides, we always see things a bit differently. The thought of being notified about sales and coupons based on your GPS location or the ability to download apps that identify who you are, where you are and what you are doing may have long term ramifications that are not yet foreseen. Did I mention that our government is archiving every single public tweet?
  • 2010 saw website failures and crashes from the likes of Skype, Wikipedia, WordPress, Gmail worldwide and PayPal. The Internet is not quite as stable and solid as most of us would like to believe. It’s a complex system, like a living organism, and things do break. With an estimated 2 billion users, 5 billion photos, 75 million websites registered in the U.S. alone and 160 million blogs active daily, you have to figure something is going to break. 2010 showed us that when it does, life as we have come to expect it stops.
  • 2010 brought us another term previously unknown to most individuals. WikiLeaks brought nations of the world to their knees. The new face of war emerged, and even the Pentagon couldn’t attack it. When you stop to consider that every piece of digital communication can be retained and harvested for incriminating information against an individual, company or government you may be saying like us, “Holy crap, Batman!” Again, the immediate impact from online slander may be embarrassment, the loss of a job or a client leaving, but the long-term potential implications are sobering – if nothing else. The thing that amazes me is that as most people read this information, they are not even aware that it is taking place all around them. Anarchy by the masses has always been discussed but anarchy created by the few who have access to unfiltered information … that is a game changer for the world. The response, to have New York publishing firm Alfred A. Knopf sign Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks to a million dollar book deal…what can I say?
  • And finally, GoDaddy has a new spokesperson, fitness guru Jillian Michaels from Biggest Loser. How is that for leveraging a cross promotion! No big deal, you say?  Well, GoDaddy has almost 500,000 new website registrations monthly. That means that Jillian picks up a potential 6,000,000 new fans annually. Perhaps my most compelling argument for the positive that is brought into all of our lives through the worldwide web.

As we enter 2011, consider this: Pandora’s box is open, it will never be closed again and our options are condensed down to two. You can engage with social media and participate and influence how you are seen on the Internet – or you can pretend that nothing is happening.  If 2010 has taught us anything, it is that the Web, social media and poor public policy have left us naked and unprotected. The only question that remains is, what will you do about it?

While it is said that people are innocent until proven guilty, Steven Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has interrupted such long held notions of justice. As managing director of Reputation Advocate, an online reputation management company, Steven Wyer now helps others who have been slandered online as he was. Adding the title of published author to his string of professional accomplishments, Steven Wyer has written Violated Online. In the book he offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you repair your online reputation, call 888-229-0746 or go online to http://reputationadvocate.com 

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