Businesses, political candidates, public figures and private individuals become victims of so-called cybersmears, online defamation, flamers and cyber bullies. Here are resources for fighting back.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group advocating civil liberties online, provides this list of frequently asked questions that is aimed at helping bloggers avoid getting sued for defamation or for online libel. "Will a retraction help?" is one question. The answer amounts to this: It couldn't hurt.
Parry Aftab bills herself as a "cyberlawyer." This page has links to an informative PowerPoint slide show and background material that encompass her presentation on how companies should respond to cybersmear campaigns. She advises vigilance in Googling your company, and watching blogs.
Credo Media Group is one of many companies - in this case, a public relations firm - offering "online reputation repair" services. It claims it can "push away or remove defamatory information from the top spots of search engine results."
Here is just one other such service that tinkers with "search engine optimization."
How to flame.
Here are weird guidelines - probably tongue-in-cheek - on how to orchestrate a "flame war" of mutual destruction online. Look at it as a guide for how
to act, or react. For example, suggestions include heavy use of sarcasm, putdowns and insulting jokes in online forums, and the advice to "make it personal."
While aimed at stopping online bullying among children and teenagers, this site offers reminders for everyone about how damaging online attacks can be. The site is done by the group whose mascot is McGruff the Crime Dog.