Business vs. Personal Reputation Repair

There are many similarities between online reputation management and repair for businesses and individuals.

Both want to control their business or personal brand and protect against reputation damage.

Both businesses and individuals can be attacked online by their enemies. They both can make mistakes and see them posted online for the world to see. The main difference between the two is seen when you start getting in to reputation repair.

There is a different set of rules for businesses

localBusinesses, since they are driven by profits, are affected by a different set of laws and legal issues when it comes to reputation damage repair.

In many reputation repair cases, whether business or personal, suppression strategies often involve what could be considered by some as astroturfing.

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g. political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations more credibility…[1]

In a nutshell, it is basically illegal for businesses to astroturf themselves or use sockpuppets.

There have been companies fined for “astroturfing” or posting fake business reviews on yelp, google, etc… to try to fix their business reputation, which is illegal because it is false advertising. This pertains to violations of the FTC’s 2009 Endorsement & Testimonials Guidelines. [2]

The term astroturfing is commonly used in politics. During elections, you’ll hear this term used a lot. Even though astroturfing is constantly done in politics and for individuals there is hardly a mention of any legal issues.

There are several cases where high profile people with online reputation problems were outed online[3] for what could be considered personal astroturfing, this included using sockpuppets, fake endorsements, honors and awards, but I am unable to locate any mention of legal action because if it.

Personal Astroturfing (or astroturfing yourself online)

Technically what you are trying to accomplish for yourself does not fit the US FTC definition of astroturfing or false advertising because you are not selling anything.

Depending on where you live in the world, there may be different laws pertaining to astroturfing yourself and personal sockpuppetry so check that out.

I am not a lawyer. If any of this concerns you, seek professional legal advice at once.

The bottom line:

You can get away with a lot more as a person.

Learn more

If you want to learn all the strategies and tricks for personal reputation management and repair, click here.

References and Footnotes

  1. Astroturfing - Wikipedia
  2. FTC 2009 Endorsement & Testimonials Guidelines - FTC.gov (PDF)
  3. Scrubbed: The World of Black-Ops Reputation Management - New York Magazine