Applying Ethics in Online Reputation Management

In the online reputation management industry (ORM), the types of individuals seeking our services are very diverse. From doctors and lawyers to moms and dads, everyone has a lot to lose when unwanted information is leaked onto the Internet. For that reason, we receive many inquires at Creative Tinge asking for suppressing and various strategies to get soemthing off the first page of Google – in full sight for anyone digging about you or your business.

Social Media ORM

Sometimes however, we are faced with ethical dilemmas. With the #MeToo movement, Creative Tinge (and likely other ORM agencies) is getting an increasing amount of calls related to individuals wanting court records and arrest records suppressed or worse (and we are against this strategy), removed. If you aren’t familiar with the #MeToo movement, it started about 2 years ago when celebrities began openly talking about sexual misconduct within the entertainment industry. Gradually, individuals around North America started speaking out in support of sexual assault victims on the Internet using the hashtag “MeToo”.

So this is when we had to ask ourselves: do we want the business or do we want values? With every client that a business takes on, it is tied to ethics. In all matters of business, ethics is an important consideration. We began to evaluate on a case-to-case basis. There was and continues to be no way that we could, as a firm who operates with both men and women in a professional yet friendly and close environment, take on clients such as these. We are not the court and we are not the judge. While it is our job to suppress and hide information, it is not our job to deprive people from information that could help them make an important decision. Let’s say a doctor with disciplinary actions for sexual misconduct is seeking our services. We are successful and 9 months later, a mother is researching him for her kids… that is not a comfortable thought to live with regardless of the nature of our work.

Evaluating by Case

There are two simple questions we ask ourselves:

1. Who is the client and what is the purpose?

Now, we know that the purpose is to suppress. But what is the client’s end game? Are they trying to get a job, grow their business, impress investors, or just care what their neighbors will think? Once we start discussing the case with the client, we start to understand whether they want to defend themselves from an attack, just manage their online reputation, or they are trying to hide something.

2. If we take on this client, will our work potentially harm others?

Sometimes, there are discrepancies in cases as well. Things may be blow out of proportion, someone is framed or extorted, among many other factors. It is up to us to determine with everything that we know, if the client is being truthful.

There are many other minor variables that could persuade Creative Tinge to take or not take an ORM client. Our firm strongly tries not to let personal bias in the way and consults each other on unclear cases. One thing is for sure, ethics is at the forefront of our values. It is rare to find an ORM agency that will refuse cases – most are attracted to the money and as a result, fail their clients in with the execution of their services once they’ve been paid.

Ethics is becoming increasingly scarce in business. The ORM industry and anyone who may need ORM services need to re-evaluate how they make their decisions before bad ethics begins to affect their reputation.