We don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, today your first impression is usually what search engines have to say about you.

As someone who was an early target of online shame, I frequently share that although I won a landmark case for internet defamation and invasion of privacy, the internet never forgets.

Social media is here and there are many ways you can use it to rebuild your online life.

How can you recover from public shaming?

1. Assess the situation: This starts with looking at page one of your search results – the part of your online reputation that can stick for years or indefinitely even.

While tweet storms are usually temporary, the first page of the search results are more long lasting and it’s what the vast majority of people will look at before interacting or doing business with you, so this is a key area to review.

2. Avoid interacting with the attacker: Often the first reaction is to respond directly to your attacker in a public fashion. Don’t. It’s almost always better in the long run to refrain. Responding online can extend the visibility of the shaming, harassment, or incident.

3. Change the conversation by building positive online content: Ultimately, you want to create better content than what already exists to give search engines a reason to rank your new material over existing content. The easiest way to create new content is through free blogging sites, like WordPress or Medium. Make sure the content you create is high quality and at least 1,000 words long. Also include a biography, some photographs, and discussions related to your areas of expertise, professional accomplishments, and community service.

Most important, being proactive before a disaster strikes can help ease the impact of damage to your online reputation.

Staying vigilant and monitoring yourself regularly is so important. There are multiple free tools to help understand and monitor online mentions as well as free online monitoring services

How to avoid being a target of public shaming.

We’re living in a time where the majority of people are armed with smartphones, no longer are we afforded the luxury of an oops moment without risking it going viral.

Whether you lose sight of your toddler for a moment and have a meltdown or engage in a personal conversation on a plane, today the world is watching and judging you.

An aim and shame society.

In a culture where we aim and shame instantly without considering the truth or consequences of our actions – how many of us have had those parenting cringe moments and are grateful they aren’t memorialized on social media?

Can we actually say we are perfect parents? Hardly, but when it comes to online behaviour, we all can start becoming more self-aware of how we treat each other, as well as improve our own digital citizenship.

It begins with civility.

The three C’s of improving our online behaviour can help us prevent digital disasters and avoid oops moments.

1. Conduct: Take time to check-in with your emotions before you pick up your keypad. We’re living in contentious times, anger is temporary – online is forever. The cell-phone is a great tool, but it can easily be turned into a weapon that harms people with words (or humiliating videos). Keystrokes can be used four ways – help, heal, hurt or to harm. Be sure you’re using them the right way.

2. Content: Social media can be fast-paced. More and more we are reading about people that suffer with tweet regrets and post remorse. Take the time to consider what you’re about to publish online. Is it going to embarrass you or humiliate someone else? Fifteen minutes of humour is never worth a lifetime of humiliation.

3. Caring: Many people know they should treat people online as they do offline, but that doesn’t stop digital cruelty. I say, care enough about yourself to know when you need to click-out if you’re about to leave a snarky comment or ‘like’ a mean meme. Don’t allow your emotions to take control of your fingers. You are the role-model to your children and the next generation.

Before you use your keystrokes to shame or insult someone — pause and think about yourself. Your online behaviour is a reflection of your offline character. The way you treat others says a lot about you as a person. This is your reputation.

It’s time we start bringing empathy back into our communities. With empathy it’s almost impossible to be cruel to each other.

5 Ways you can avoid public shaming:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Be self-aware of your offline actions.
  3. If you find yourself getting steamed, walk away.
  4. Have zero expectancy of privacy — wherever you are.
  5. Treat people the way want to be treated, always.


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