The Truth about Untruthful Postings

In Truth on 01/24/2013 at 00:23

A few months back, I was at a function that had a mix of writers, lawyers and doctors. I usually find myself in an awkward position when I am asked what I do for a living. Some individuals and professionals find my work in Digital Privacy distasteful, even though they may admit the necessity of my services.

At this function, I had to opportunity to strike up a conversation with Dr. Marc Hafkin, a psychologist out of Maryland. We began to discuss how the Internet has brought change to both of our businesses. However, the change was not always positive. I mentioned that one of the serious issues licensed professionals are facing is untrue Internet postings about them or their services. I explained how dangerous this can be in a world where there is no Delete button or accountability on the Internet.

Established professionals rely on their reputation for referrals, rather than on advertising. Therefore, when a client or ex-client casually posts a negative or untrue posting the same way they would of a restaurant or hotel, the results usually are catastrophic. Those who post untrue information do not see or care about the full ramifications of their actions. I speak from experience because I have witnessed how such actions have destroyed people’s lives and livelihood.

A lawyer I helped represented a client in a losing case. The disgruntled client began posting untrue damaging information about the lawyer. The lawyer attempted to get the website to remove the information, but was unsuccessful because the website’s host is in Morocco. The lawyer’s business dropped by forty percent.

In the past year, there have been huge increases in websites that cater to unaccountable postings, such as Cheaters, Rate My Teacher, etc. These types of websites are a serious problem because there is zero fact checking as well as zero accountability placed on the website or poster. The only recourse available to the person reviewed, is to post a comment about the posting. This hardly seems fair or just, especially since probably no one will believe them.

In my discussion with Dr. Hafkin, I mentioned that an article about me would be coming out in Psychology Today magazine in January 2013. Somehow, the idea of a social experiment evolved from the conversation. We thought it would be not only interesting, but important, to demonstrate how an untrue posting can hurt a licensed professional, as well as create serious problems with family, friends and associates.

In a few days, I will share more on the following website: http://www.untruepostings.com.


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