As part of Cyberslammed’s research, I’ve been looking into Reputation Management companies since 2007 and the one that has truly impressed me is RegainYourName.com. [Full disclosure: We approached them after Cyberslammed was published to see if their reputation management services could somehow mesh with the “Combat” section of each tactic in the book. More on how this works below.]
From the beginning, RegainYourName.com’s interest in protecting kids from online defamation and Sexting came through as a genuine social mission—an integral part of their core values. Imagine being a teenager whose parents have no clue, whose teachers and school administrators are no help; who daily, sees her reputation getting annihilated online and has nowhere to turn. She may get a free consult with other RM companies, but in the end, it will cost her thousands of dollars to get bad content pushed down off search engines. For that teenager? Dead end, once again.
As a UK nonprofit, recently founded in 2010, RegainYourName.com is very helpfully about the DIY philosophy, that is “do what you can yourself—first.” they offer free Twitter, Facebook and website resources along with free email advice. [For teenagers with little real life support, this is a lifeline.] Next, for around $30, they offer e-guides and videos that for example, teach how to remove and report cyberbullying content yourself off Facebook including:
- Report and delete cyberbullying, cyberstalking and privacy issues on Facebook.
- Ensure you communicate with a real person at Facebook.
- Use applicable local laws to remove content.
- Use Facebook’s ‘Terms of Service’ to make a complaint which will result in deleted content.
One of the # 1 complaints I’m starting to hear from parents when their child is being cyberbullied is that they don’t know where to start, who to go to first, and even if they take it to the police, Facebook or the schools, if their complaints are even effective! That’s why I like RegainYourName’s no-nonsense approach.
Regain Your Name was created by a reputation management consultant who had previously worked in education, and a victim of cyber stalking and harassment who knew first-hand what would and wouldn’t achieve the removal of bullying material on the Internet. Drawing on experience of e-safety in education, cyberbullying and social media marketing, they offer advice to individuals, schools and anti-bullying advocates based on our considerable experience in this field. All of their eBook and video material stems from real examples of removing grossly offensive material on the web. All of their free advice is based on strategies they’ve already seen work.
Here’s how their knowledge and expertise dovetails with what we’ve learned. Take Sexting, one of the tactics in our book, for example. While we use a social-emotional model to get to the bottom of motivation behind Sexting, RegainYourName is all about getting that potentially criminal content off the ‘Net. Fast! No wasting time going through the wrong channels when every second counts. They know how to do it and they aren’t holding this knowledge “hostage.” As they told us:
For example – we get a lot of requests for advice on removing pictures resulting from Sexting – from both teenagers and adults. Currently, using copyright infringement is the most effective way to remove these from search results and social networking – by using DMCA legislation. (Since a phone or webcam was used, the copyright is owned by the person who created the image – and not whoever has published it without permission.)
Apart from their online services, they also offer training solutions, speakers for conference events, schools and educational workshops. In a recent email exchange, it’s clear their work empowers students who fear psychological harm from cyberbullying:
I’ve used the removal guides myself with Y8 students in the UK (7th and 8th grade equivalent) with good results. Interestingly it wasn’t the fact the cyberbullying could be deleted after the event, which appealed most to them, it was the prior knowledge that the cyberbullying could be removed which proved most powerful. The ‘threat’ of cyberbullying, partly caused by a lack of knowledge and information, was at least on a psychological level in terms of the level of worry, reduced. Those pupils who admitted that they had been tempted to bully, or retaliate in a bullying manner, also revealed that they would be less likely to do so in future given the knowledge that the abuse was traceable and removable. Not a scientific study by any means – but an interesting basis for a thesis.
In the future, we hope to provide a live Facebook or webinar forum for adults and teens with expert contributors and would like to invite RegainYourName’s founders to answer live Q&A on one of our six tactics topics. Like RegainYourName, and like us, this isn’t about the almighty bottom line. Yes, we have businesses to run, but when teenagers’ lives and reputations are at stake, there is much we can do to empower adults and teens to take back control over their digital footprint.