The Long Term Impacts of Online Critics on Personal Brands

This post is not about Thomas vs Simon B, but instead about the long term online impacts to personal and corporate brands.

A focus on online reputation and brands
I’m hesitant to publish this post, not because I don’t think it’s important, but instead, I don’t want to be caught in the cross fire between Thomas Hawk and Simon B of the SF museum. My focus is on the online impacts, not the specific quarrel these two have around photographers rights, I wasn’t at the museum that day, so I really can’t comment on what happened.

[Seventy-seven percent of recruiters report using search engines to find background data on candidates. Of that number, 35 percent eliminated a candidate because of what they found online… –StarTribune]

First of all, please note that Thomas Hawk is a friend of mine for a few years now, he supported me at my first Lunch 2.0 at Hitachi, and a blogger dinner with the CEO of Hitachi Data Systems, and even took the picture I use everywhere (see right), I admire the man’s work, we will continue to be friends for many years.

A personal brand is damaged
Yesterday, he published a post outlining a conflict he had with a director at a SF museum regarding photographing in public. The post characterized Simon B (I’m not using his full name as I don’t want to make the situation worse) as an a-hole. Thomas’s blog is well read, his social media prowess strong among his community and in true social media fashion, it spread to Flickr, Zoomr (where Thomas is the CEO), Friendfeed, Twitter and perhaps the biggest driver —it was seen by millions on Digg (including a portrait of Simon).

Today’s resume is your Google search results
Today, if you do a search result and examine the first search engine results page (SERP) you’ll notice that as of today 9/10 results are tied to Simon being an “a-hole”. Perhaps most importantly the first two results are of Thomas (we know most clicks start there), the only one that’s not is Simon B’s Facebook profile, which has very little info.

[Your relevant resume is your Google Search results. You should spend as much time managing your search results as you do your printed resume]

Simon had very little online footprint to start with, and now it will be dominated online by all of these social media elements. Even if Thomas chose to change the title of his blog and flickr, the Twitter, tailrank, and many other online echos will forever be archived –Simon’s online reputation is forever linked to this incident.

Essentially, Simon B’s online reputation has been burnt.

The Long Term Impacts of Online Criticisms on Personal Brands
For Simon, these online results are a big impact, we know that many recruiters use the web to find candidates, and seeing several results like this could result in a recruiter passing up a candidate. If a recruiter doesn’t care, or doesn’t see this, hiring managers are likely to do Google searches on the individual finding this. Of course, this could swing towards Simon’s advantage, some museums or businesses may seem him as serving as a defender of the property, if he positions himself correctly. Perhaps the biggest damage is to Simon’s personal and family relationships, who will see this incident online for years to come.

Key takeaways:

  • For those that don’t already participate online, and have a small digital footprint, they don’t have a strong platform to stand from.
  • Anyone is susceptible to brand damage, even if you’re not in this space (Simon is not in a web professional)
  • Bloggers with large social media platforms are incredibly powerful, and must recognize the long term impacts of their actions.
  • Businesses should assume every customer (and employee) is capable of impacting an individual or company’s online reputation
  • Companies should already have a crises plan ready to deal with online criticisms, read this article from CBS on outsourcing brand damage experts
  • Simon B may have to buy search ads to get his printed resume or story correctly positioned
  • Customers and Corporations should first consider the Company Customer Pact
  • Update: To be fair, if Simon or the museum come forward with a statement, I’ll update this post and link to it.

  • Thomas Hawk has left a thoughtful comment below, see comment #28
  • A similar blog post (and discussion on Friendfeed) has started to take place.
  • A post reviewing Thomas’s change and update to the post (it now reads “jerk”)— since the community reaction has been so fiery
  • August 13: The Museum has made an official statement, suggesting we move on –I agree.
  • Dec 3, 2008: It’s a few months later and Thomas Hawk’s blog still shows first for searches on Simon’s name in my SERP, of course, your results could vary.

    103 Replies to “The Long Term Impacts of Online Critics on Personal Brands”

    1. Reading this, I am thinking, not only companies should have a crises plan, people should as well. When you get in a situation like this, you should know what to do. Buying search ads is just half the work. I think it requires getting online, telling your side of the story. Engage in the conversation yourself, where it happens. So don’t start your own blog without having conversations on other blogs/friendfeed/twitter/where ever the fire is burning

    2. Frank

      I’m not even sure if Simon’s joining the conversation right now is a good idea. He should probably wait until the flames die down and contact a top blogger to tell his side of the story.

    3. Great post Jeremiah and something I discuss constantly over at Six Pixels of Separation. It’s no longer about “degrees” any more. We are are all intrinsically connected.

      Google has the memory of an elephant and an emotional “moment in time” now becomes your legacy (good, bad or neutral). I half-jokingly tell people that if they don’t have some kind of digital footprint, I assume they are a spy or a serial killer.

      The challenge for most is being able to “publish” your thoughts without getting caught in these kinds of online battles. It’s hard and everybody likes to stop and take a read of a good online hooplah, but manage your personal brand with a long-term perspective and not from knee-jerk reactions.

    4. This clearly outlines how everybody’s not equal in the web (2.0) space, but then again, just like in any other space.

      “great power comes with great responsibilities”, as Stan Lee once said, and such events are here to make us all think about that.

    5. The thing that strikes me is that all the listings on the first page of of the SERP are from the last few days. Yes, this looks bad now. But a positive campaign of similar magnitude next week could change those SERP results to: Simon B, the museum saint.

    6. On my name blog, I talk alot about Asperger’s syndrome. In a couple of posts, I have used my daughter’s first name (she has Asperger’s). She has always been very careful not to have anything pointing to her online. Now that she has her undergrad degree and is looking for a job/applying to grad schools, she is more concerned with what is linked to her.
      When she googles her name, the first few hits are about autism (she has the same last name as me, and I used her first name in my post, thus the hits). This is NOT what she wants! So, she is working to get my posts pushed down, and I don’t use her first name if I write about her and autism.
      I didn’t say anything bad about her, never used her entire name, and it still is impacting her in a negative way. I would have never done anything purposely to hinder her job search, but how many people will see she’s on the spectrum and not have a negative preconception of her? And I don’t really have any sort of following, so it doesn’t take too much to ruin a brand. (I feel like such a bad mom!)

    7. Gina

      Why don’t you just edit your blog post, and show at the bottom of the page you’ve made some edits and list out why? Is it just me, or does this seem like a simple fix?

    8. Jeremiah,

      A few possibilities:

      Simon can respond in the comments on Thomas’ blog. If he had a blog of his own, and if the museum did, he could also respond there and explain his policies and actions. I would wager that Thomas would link to that because that is the ethic of the link in our world — don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself. Thomas and Simon would still disagree, but they could have this conversation via links. And Simon would thus have the means of response.

      The link solves most of what you’re raising. But that requires both sides to enter into the conversation. That’s what the internet requires.

    9. Jeremiah,
      It’s more than one post, I’ve been blogging about it since she was in high school. Plus, wouldn’t it be cached by google anyways? (I have no clue how that works, sorry for the ignorance).

      It also doesn’t help that we’ve both spoken and written for a support org in NE, and they have started putting those things online. She has her name blog now too and is aggressively working to fix it.

    10. As a matter of fact, Google is kind of a (popular) court records keeper… It is accessible to everybody, and it will never disappear.

      i.e. some of us are able to do their own (private) justice. Like in outlaw territories.

      We should not be surprise if at one point Google would be legally assigned to erase such (savage) justice traces…

    11. Jeff

      Always great to hear from you, seriously. I know how the web works, heh. But in this case, even if Simon did respond to Thomas from his own blog, Thomas’s blog will still dominate. A savvy strategy would be for Simon to not only leave comments on this blog, but to also ensure other bloggers saw what was happening.

    12. “The post characterized Simon B (I™m not using his full name as I don™t want to make the situation worse)” . But yo just did when you have a complete search term link 🙁 and that just adds up to the google juice , so now its 9.5/10 :(-

      Anyhoot, thats beside the point, I agree with you on “Essentially, Simon B™s online reputation has been burnt.” – Thou shall reap what you sow.

      I Differ on this point : “Customers and Corporations should first consider the Company Customer Pact” – What is this pact, that you keep pointing too ? This has not been ratified by any Law. Why not the consumer protection act or something like that ?

      Now bak to Simon B. Why has he not stepped forward and commented on TH blog ? He and SFMOMA can easily step forward, issue and apology. By doing this they can reverse the pollution that has occurred within google. However, if they dont have an online policy and understand how to leverage the internet for branding, then they CEO /Director of customer/visitor Relationships s/be sacked. After all, that type of position is a customer facing role and needs a high degree of marketing /sales knowledge. Albeit, 101 of SEO/SEM. They bigger issue here is that , If you dont have an online strategy you fubar’ed. Simon B does not. TH does.

    13. Peter

      To be fair, I’ll link to Simon’s response if he comes forth with one. Jeff Jarvis pretty much says how it is –Simon will need to participate in the discussion. Your third point resonates exactly what Simon should do.

      The Company Customer Pact was created by the Get Satisfaction crew, it’s not a legal document and never should be. It’s a set of guidelines that if used, can hopefully make online communications more effective so companies can respond quicker and respond better.

      Perhaps one of the main reasons I’m so fond of it, is because if bloggers are responsible in their communications, companies will be less timid to listen –hopefully fixing things in the long term. I have it printed out on my desk, and look to it before I criticize any company.

    14. A major component of your crisis plan should be a Champion who speaks on your behalf — like Paul Venezia is doing for Terry Childs in InfoWorld. This person should speak on your behalf (in their own blog and on others’), explain your case, make sure your Wikipedia entry doesn’t get out of hand, and so on. Basically this person should do for you what a PR firm would do for a company.

      @Jay Ehret That’s exactly right…but only if you spin it properly (which isn’t all that hard to do, actually).

    15. Jeremiah, I appreciate your commentary. You, as someone who knows Thomas, are the only person not too scared of having YOUR online rep destroyed to attach your name to posts. The rest of us fear his bullying wrath.

      In comments on Thomas’ blog, the truth is starting to emerge.

      People need to remember a few points:

      -Thomas conveniently posted this at the end of business on Friday, knowing it would explode on the internet by the time MOMA could scramble to issue something on Monday.
      -Simon obviously CAN’T come out and defend himself all over–he is not a lone wolf (bully) like Hawk, and he has his superiors to await direction from.
      -Even if he did eventually come out through a major blog, it’s bully psychology (I’m a psychologist by training). Hawk will not rest. Hawk will need to feel utter and complete in the knowledge that he has destroyed this man’s life beyond repair. This will make him briefly happy, until his next target surfaces.
      -Hawk has created an angry mob. Blint has now received *physical threats* from strangers, and the museum has received countless demands that he be fired. So Hawk wants this man fired, unable to find new work, and fearing for his own safety–all because he did his job and tried to protect an employee whose blouse he saw Hawk shooting down.

      This defamation of character is horrible, and I hope Blint has his day in court. Hawk keeps referring to Blint as power-hungry, etc . I have never seen a worse example of the pot calling the kettle black in my life. I’m sickened by it.

      And the sad part is, I don’t think he will ever change, no matter how many people blog about his indecency.

    16. Great write up! Hopefully both individuals and companies will take away from this in taking care if their image online.

      It still amazes me the lack of concern an adaptation by companies. Take the recent Hasboro Scrabble issue, why wouldn’t they embrace the facebook creation by two individuals who truely enjoyed the game? Perhapse it’s just an instance bad press is good press.

      Though I haven’t read any additional info on “Simon” maybe this is another one of those moments, as you mentioned.

    17. Thanks Jermery for the tidibit “Company Customer Pact was created by the Get Satisfaction crew” . ahhhhhh.. Now, I understand why you point to this pact. Makes sense from blogger/company side of communication.

      btw.. the GetS crew are now residing in the the Old twitter office :)-

    18. Great post Jeremiah – in my conversations with conference delegates and clients I refer to this as your ‘Google CV’ (CV being the preferred term to ‘resume’ in South Africa).

      It never ceases to surprise me how few users of social networks and social media sites are even aware that their FB, LinkedIn and Flick profiles come up on Google. It’s even more shocking how fewer corporates (maybe this is just in South Africa) don’t yet use these links as a recruitment filter…

    19. Hey Jeremiah, thanks for posting on this. It’s an especially interesting and important part of the story. You are a good friend and I’ve always loved that friends can disagree on things, have conversations disagreeing and still maintain friendships.

      I absolutely agree with you that this incident has seriously hurt Simon’s online reputation. And I am and was very conscious and aware that my blog’s Google pagerank and my standing on many highly pageranked social communities has and can have tremendous influence over someone’s online footprint.

      That said, as a photographer and as an artist, I put *enormous* weight on the importance of having our public cultural treasures managed correctly. I feel especially strong when these treasures involve the Arts, something I feel especially passionate about.

      The SF MOMA does not belong to Simon. He is merely a hired hand entrusted to help manage it for the public benefit. Yelling at paying members from the atrium floor, accusing people of taking down blouse shots, all of these things are entirely unprofessional. Even here though I was willing to let the situation go. But when Blint refused to examine my photographs, refused to discuss the matter rationally, refused in any way to diffuse the situation and simply insisted on throwing me out of the museum with the help of two security guards, I felt blogging the incident was the correct thing to do.

      It was at this point that I *told* Blint that if he ejected me that I’d be blogging this. It was at this point that I told him that this would affect his online reputation. He told me he did not care. I gave Blint *every opportunity* to diffuse the situation and ample warning of what was coming his way.

      Now Blint of course had no idea what that would end up looking like. He is ignorant of how the online world works where I am savvy. So despite my immediate emotional desire to blog it I still thought long and hard about it.

      You see Blint has/had great real offline physical power and control over one of our most important cultural treasures in San Francisco. As the Director of Visitor Services he will affect how thousands of people interact with the art and architecture of the SF MOMA. And so I felt the blog post was necessary.

      What I did not publish? I didn’t publish photographs of the other two security guards or get their names or even include a photo of the “jerk off” hand motion one of the security guards gave me as he rudely escorted me and my guest out. I did not publish a photograph of the woman in question (yet) who is clearly not wearing a low cut blouse but instead is wearing a big yellowish/orangish sweater/jacket thing (she appears in one of my photographs that I took with Blint who has his arms folded and is yelling up at me from the public atrium). I purposely and consciously restricted this post to Blint and what I saw as an abuse of power by someone who was in physical control and charge of an incredibly important public treasure and resource.

      By the way, and for what it’s worth, I was hugely supportive of the museum’s recent decision to begin allowing photography in their permanent collection. I wrote a blog post applauding them and their decision and I even tried to arrange a photowalk at the museum to highlight this enormously positive decision.

      My blog post on Blint was not done without careful consideration and thought. I still feel that it was the right thing to do. Hopefully it serves as an example of why it is in fact important to treat paying patrons of the SF MOMA with more respect in the future. Part of why we blog, after all, is to effect positive change in our world.

      Appreciate your contributing to the conversation and I will certainly be more than happy to give not only a link, but space in my original blog post to either Simon or the SF MOMA should either wish to offer a response. This would elevate any response and ensure that it not be buried in the comments section. Jeff Jarvis is right about the ethic of our link world. And I am certainly willing to let Simon or the SF MOMA have their say alongside my disagreement with their decision to forcibly eject me from their/our museum.

    20. Thomas

      Thanks as always for providing your thoughts on this, I too am glad we can have civil discourse on the issues. The additional information is helpful (I carefully read your post and the 200+ comments), all appreciated.

    21. Thanks both Jeremiah and Thomas. Very interesting reads.

      I find myself thinking about all the young kids who are already ruining their online reputations completely oblivious to the impact they are making on their future. (I mean, things like kids videoing criminal behavior like fights, doing drugs, assult etc.)

    22. As we all intellectual blog about the various impacts the internet has on our lives, I need to repeat this:

      THE MAN IS NOW RECEIVING THREATS. The internet is full of a million wack-jobs, and many of them apparently are Hawk’s followers.

      This is not a polite intellectual discourse. Mr. Hawk has created a situation of actual physical danger for someone.

      Mr. Hawk committed the verbal equivalent of taking out a gun and shooting someone who cut him off in traffic, and suddenly hundreds of people are actually saying, “well, the guy DID cut him off…”

      Seriously, people. This isn’t your life, or your dad’s life, or your brother’s life being destroyed, but think for a moment how you would feel if it were.

    23. beautiful post Jeremiah. And thanks Thomas for clarifying on #28; it’s great to see how the incident was handled so rationally and righteously, despite all the emotions involved.

      In an age where six degrees are just too many, you are what people say about you. It matter less what you think, and more how people – and links, pageranks, social traces – sees it. Not really much different than it has been for the past 100 years, just shockingly faster (and archived forever. Or close to it).

      Good thought for brands AND people alike.

    24. Is there a way to filter google hits *before* a certain date? I would really love to see how much of a online presence before this event you are talking about. Very intriguing aspect, can’t say I’m too much sorry for the person in question, though.

    25. Well Jeremiah you certainly know how to find a hot topic on a weekend. This raises many issues but they are similar issues found in the everyday workplace. Instead of blogging we used to have water cooler rumor mongering.

      The challenge is the rumor or point of view can now spread globally in a second versus confined to two coworkers whom everyone realizes do not get along.

      To quote the great philosopher Spiderman: With great power, comes great responsibility. I don™t know the working relationship or if Thomas even works for MOMA as an employee. If Thomas works as an employee he has no right to publicly publish and use disparaging remarks about a coworker in any venue and should be fired Monday.

      If Thomas does not have a contractual arrangement then I think he has a right to publish an opinion but where I disagree with him is in using disparaging remarks. There are two sides to every story and Thomas has a right to express his opinion as does the other party. But when Thomas made it personal he broke the great responsibility part of the deal. He was able to leverage his influence and put his personal point of view to a mass audience and this is not fair to the other party.

      If Thomas used his blog to point out differences in a professional manner and keep it above a personal point of view then I think this would have had a better outcome. It™s a simple rule of do unto others. Would Thomas like it if a guy like you or Seth Godin went on their larger blogging audiences and called him an A-Hole. I doubt it.

      The short end of it is its Thomas™s blog and yes he can do what ever he wants on it. However its Thomas who could come out looking like the A-hole, where he could have taken this as an opportunity to have a professional and honest difference of opinion and use his channel to drive for responsible change..not petty name calling. Just like in the real world he could also get sued for liable and slander.

      You raise a excellent question and I hope everybody takes a second to chill out before they blog and always be professional in your criticism.

    26. Ed this is a fair assessment, thanks for posting this. I’ve gotten a few private emails from folks, they say they they are losing their fandom for Thomas. I know he feels just, but there are equal reactions for every action. As a friend, I want to make sure he knows this.

    27. Hawk is framing this in a photographers rights (which I am for) issue, but the way he reacted is a form of bullying, pure and simple. There were numerous ways for him to talk about and handle what happened, but pitchforks and torches isn’t a good choice.

      I can’t think of anyone that I’ve ever had personal dealings with that I’d do this to.

    28. There is an important, ordinary and rational step missing from the decision process Thomas Hawk describes in comment 28: the step where instead of immediately publicizing his dispute, he contacts the museum, Blint’s office, or someone else in a position to mediate or re-mediate his complaint via direct, private contact. A phone call, a visit, even and email.

      It doesn’t sound like he ever considered contacting the aggrieving party one-on-one, which is what I think one would do if one didn’t have a public soap box from which to share one’s grievance. Using threats during the heat of the dispute to scare someone into backing down isn’t really “rational” or “righteous,” to use Gui’s words.

      I don’t know who’s right or wrong here, but my point is that the recourse to public humiliation sounds more self-righteous than righteous.

    29. Pingback: broadstuff
    30. Awesome post. Read every comment.

      Since this event and the blogging of it has so many facets, one would hate for a prospective employer who’s not 100% clued-in to social media and how it works, to be handling the Google search. It almost calls for an outside source to handle this duty, so the source can provide a full picture of the prospective emplyee. Possibly a new (or existing unbeknownst to me) industry?

      In my humble opinion, my #1 goal in rebuilding this MoMA emploee’s online “brand” would be to get HIS statement, his side, directly ON the offending blog post, and the photographer has offered to do this via his above comment. I’d have a PR person assist him in writing an email directly to the photographer with this request. Then, repeat this request with other bloggers. Getting the MoMA employee’s message directly on these blogs (including the original) will make the links valuable instead of a problem (if they all say yes of course)

      I personally try my best to avoid commenting on posts/reviews that are negative about myself. I’m sure I have, but I try not to.

      My two cents. Thanks!

    31. Jeff says:

      “Simon can respond in the comments on Thomas™ blog.”

      Where his response will be drowned out in the sea of “I agree with Thomas, what a douchebag!” comments. And how many people will actually get down past the article and into the many comments? How many will never actually read the article – but will see the result on Google, read the single line, and go “Oh yeah, no way am I hiring that guy”.
      “If he had a blog of his own, and if the museum did, he could also respond there and explain his policies and actions.”

      If there was no such thing as network effects, and no such thing as Google, that would be fine. Except, of course, there’s no way that a blog post by Simon will ever get the link-juice that Thomas has – Thomas’ post will rank above anything Simon or the museum posted for a very long time.

      Someone unknown, starting a blog, responding to someone with a lot of Googlejuice will not get them a level playing field.

    32. Ian

      Good points, Simon has no platform to stand on. Thomas has offered (in his comments above, #28) that he’ll allow Simon to guest post on his own blog. I’ll be happy to cross link.

    33. I’ll play devils advocate on this one. For the job that Simon B does is there really an impact? Sure he has not so flattering results show up in Google, but he’s not in a position where a virtual presence is as important as a web strategist lets say. He enforces rules at a museum and as a person in that role is likely to rub some people the wrong way. Few in this role would receive positive comments online by nature of the role being transparent when things go well. If I were looking for someone to fill this type of job and I happened to Google the persons name perhaps this wouldn’t be seen as completely negative.

      To the point about nuking someones brand… this situations does bother me a great deal. Thomas has done this before and later changed the title from “asshole” to something else. The fact that this tactic was repeated and aimed at people that are a substantial disadvantage does pose a problem to those without the same online cache. Other than having a platform of equal footing (pagerank, subscribers, traffic, etc.) there isn’t much you can do if you enter the fray late. Some might say that over time the online community might right itself giving the disadvantaged a chance to share their opinion. It’s good to see some of that happening in the comments to this post.

      It’ll be interesting to see if the SF MoMA blog is used to address this issue. On many levels I think they should avoid it at least in directly refuting TH. Given the nature of the blog they should use it for its original intent while addressing concern directly where the accusations have been made (TH blog). With a little luck that in itself will cause other bloggers to repeat and broadcast their rebuttal perhaps even guest blogging on other well ranked blogs.

    34. Has blogging suddenly become mainstream press?

      As far as I’m aware, blggging is simply a chronologically ordered website, which can be used for any purpose, including news or personal opinion.

      If I was publicly humiliated and thrown out of a building by someone who was unaware of the rules, I’d be annoyed, and would be telling everyone I knew about it. It’s an entirely understandable human reaction.

      I’m a strong believer that blogs should always strive to include a right of reply and portray two sides of each story, for legal reasons and to avoid misunderstandings, but that doesn’t mean I expect everyone in the world to respond in that way in the heat of the moment.

      It’s unfortunate that it’s resulted in threats of physical violence, but are we saying no-one should ever publicly complain due to a vocal, usually anonymous, and usually pretty harmless minority? If there are threats of violence, then go after those making the threat – not someone voicing a just complaint.

      I don’t know either of the people involved in the dispute, and obviously the only knowledge of the event has been via this article, so I have absolutely no idea about who is right or wrong.

      I do think that KT August, and Simon’s superiors are missing the point if they’re not trying to get him to respond asap. This could have stopped escalating pretty quickly.

    35. In response, Dan, I’m not missing any points.

      I’ll be honest. I’m a friend of Blint’s. He has repeatedly implored his friends and family not post since this began, because he was afraid of this awful mob descending on us, as well, and affecting our lives and careers as it has affected his. He also wanted to respect the museum’s wishes that he not speak out while they decided what, if any, response they might issue. This is why I posted anonymously here (where Jeremiah offered a bit of reason), but have refrained from doing so otherwise.

      I don’t think this would have de-escalated quickly, regardless of response. Should the museum have come crawling to Hawk, prostrate on their knees? He would have just escalated that response again, ensuring further hero-worship and more pain for Simon.

      We’ve all seen the photo in question now. While we understand it was a wide-angle shot, any of us non-photographers in the crowd could easily have mistaken it for a telephoto lens, and the camera was clearly pointed down at a young girl. Misunderstanding on Simon’s part? Yes. Might you have assumed the same thing? Yes. Was Hawk “forced” to respond the way he did? No.

      The internet, in this situation, is where the worst of human nature has emerged–mob mentality, based on only one side of the story and blind emotional loyalty to a blogger, whom people create in their minds to be whomever they want him to be. And frankly, that blogger himself is a creation of his own emotions and ego–flashy name, shiny site….this isn’t a man who does laundry and works for a living! This is a man who crusades about the city, fighting the good fight for freedom!

      And so the mob is born to protect their superhero. And while you might get mad in traffic and curse a little, the guy next to you might get mad and pick up a gun.

      And while you go home and sleep all warm in your bed tonight, my friend is reduced to couch-surfing, because his address was outed, and now he can’t go home.

      If this were YOU we were talking about, would I still be missing the point?

    36. The Google SERP results are temporary. We’ve seen this played out many times, and while it currently looks bad, over a period of months, sometimes just weeks or days, many of those results will drop off (as the posts move to archived posts with lesser PageRank).

      As a recruiter, and someone who has been warning recruiters and candidates for years about Google search results, I can only say that the results of the study are overstated.

      Yes, we do filter candidates from information we find online, but a smear campaign, or a blogstorm, will not permanently damage a candidate’s reputation unless it was something serious.

      I’ve seen actual crimes committed that have been swept under the rug with Google results, and while Simon may temporarily be embarrassed, long term it won’t matter that much.

      And if it did, he would have a pretty decent lawsuit against Thomas Hawk for interfering with his right to employment. If it could be shown that the negative results were libelous, or intended to harm Simon’s long-term prospects, it would be even stronger, especially as Thomas knows the impact of his actions.

      SERP’s are a bit ahead of collective legal mind right now, which is actually a bigger danger, as the actual damage may seem worse than it is.

      And let’s not forget the damage down to the Thomas Hawk brand. Clients are terrifed of online mobs as it is. When they see stuff like this, they run for the hills, and they’re much less inclined to work with someone in a public spat.

      Pick your battles carefully, people.

    37. Jerimiah,

      Excellent post. We as bloggers along with the freedom to post what we want also have a responsibility just like traditional media to check our sources and write correct stories.

      Not only has Simon’s online reputation been damaged, but Thomas’ reputation may have been tarnished as well.

      Time will tell.

    38. I have to agree with Jack, as ultimately our abilities to as you suggested, “move on” becomes more relevant.

      Maybe ask yourself, “Where’s the aloha in this post?” before you click, publish.

      love love one another…

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