Online Reputation Management
Online Reputation Management [ORM]
The Information Age is a societal paradigm and period beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century and presently thriving in the second decade of the 21st century. The Information Age represents the evolution, emergence, consumption of and reliance upon Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In a mere four decades, ICT and its importance to humanity have led many to surmise that the planet and its human inhabitants are amidst an Information Revolution.
Mobile digital technology, telecommunications, social media & online reputation are just a few examples of humanities newest frontiers. In all of these arenas, they deal with the new frontier of how humankind obtains exchanges and disseminates information.
As humanity is at the beginning of the Information Age and with no manner to forecast its longevity, this new frontier of communication is also when historians will say Information and Communications Technology (ICT) had its origin. In addition to this new technological explosion, society has become entrenched with the age-old phenomenon of reputation. As per Merriam-Webster, an Encyclopedia Britannica Company, Reputation is defined as A. An overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general, B. A recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability and C. A place in public esteem or regard or good name.
Without going into the social psychological and Alfred Adler tenets of why humans seek a positive reputation, the reality is that the Information Age terms of Digital Reputation, Digital Footprint, Internet Defamation & Digital Reputation Management are new to humanities lexicon and has become increasingly important. For the first time in human civilization’s history and for all children, adults and forms of business, the old fashion term of Reputation has become digitized and now called, Digital Reputation or Online Reputation.
Prior to the Information Age, a person or organization’s reputation was defined by their character, their hard work and their contributions to their community. People & businesses could make mistakes, wrong decisions and poor choices and still repair their reputation. Maintaining and enhancing a compromised reputation was possible, provided they admitted their wrong doings & failings, changed their behavioral trajectory and illustrated to their loved ones and the community that they have changed. This process has become non-existent in the Information Age.
As a huge supporter of technological advancements and greatly appreciative of ICT, this writer acknowledges that all existence is a double-edged sword sharing both positive and negative. ICT and cyberspace are no different from anything else in our macrocosm. As stated above, the elegance of ICT is the ability to rapidly obtain exchange and disseminate information. In relationship to digital reputation, when rooted in negativity, malevolence, retribution & criminality, a person or organization’s online reputation and capacity to thrive can be destroyed.
Not only can a negative digital reputation cause embarrassment & humiliation; it can cost them their job, future employment, college admission and a cornucopia of other sought after developmental steps all humankind seeks.
If a business does not allocate a portion of their operating budget to digital reputation management, they can suffer tremendous devastation from disgruntled consumers and employees, nefarious competitors and ex-partners (intimate & corporate) seeking retribution. The proverbial poison or negative side of the double-edged sword is that often times, the negative and disparaging information disseminated in cyberspace is felonious or only partially true.
The old marketing and public relations adage of “All news is good news” does not apply in the Information Age. The new adage should be “Anything other than great news is bad news.” The ethical considerations involving digital reputation, digital reputation management, online reputation management and unethical reputation management are many. From an unethical and criminal standpoint, these supposed companies are designed and managed by iPredators and cyber criminals. Existing in every community throughout history are people driven by greed.
It is no different today as greed is a primary force within the criminal mind. A simple equation is Greed + Criminal Mind + ICT Savvy = iPredator. Like all criminals, iPredators rely upon fear & discouragement in their targets, increasing their probability of succeeding in their nefarious plans. Given there are millions of people and businesses who both worry about and regularly monitor their online reputation, they become an easy target for iPredators.
Although this writer does not have clinical data or hard proof of his prediction, he feels confident that creative cyber criminals will one day verify his prognostication. If not already in action in 2013, there will be online reputation management companies, small businesses and solo professionals who will use iPredator tactics to victimize vulnerable consumers. Among the plethora of potential iPredator tactics, an example of just one is as follows:
The criminal mind with ICT savvy offer consumers a free reputation search at their website, retains their basic demographic information and then uses their ICT prowess to create and disseminate disparaging information indirectly manipulating that person or business to become a paying consumer of their online reputation management services.
In essence, they take the fear-based consumer who uses their free reputation search and makes them a paying consumer of their services because they have recently found negative information about themselves in cyberspace. What the consumer now victim does not know is the supposed ethical online reputation management service was the entity who planted that information. Without sounding facetious, the elegance of the criminal mind blessed with ICT savvy is amazing.
The field of Digital Reputation Management is a multi-billion industry and almost assuredly growing alongside ICT’s progress. Given there are no laws or “Internet police” protecting citizens in cyberspace, iPredators have free reign to victimize ICT users without fear of identification or punishment. Provided for the reader is a brief overview of the basic components of living in the Information Age and learning the complex nature of digital reputation and those who engage in nefarious and malevolent activities using ICT.
ICT and the Information Age have created a new dimension leading to an entirely new population of humanity engaged in malevolent, harmful and deceptive practices. ICT and cyberspace are not tools used by the sociopath, deviant, narcissist or classic criminal, but part of a new generation that will be permanent fixtures to humanity for centuries to follow. In order to effectively educate, evaluate, investigate or advise any ICT user on Internet safety, whether they are a child, adult, group or business, it is paramount to grasp the basic concepts and terms vital to all ICT users.
The importance of ICT and the Internet to humankind is different to everyone and as unique as a fingerprint. For some, ICT and the Internet are nothing more than tools of convenience for conducting mundane tasks. For others, their social, scholastic, business and/or financial affairs disclosed online are crucial to their life functioning, self-esteem, self-worth, success and perceptual world.
As ICT, social media, virtual reality and the Information Age rapidly expands becoming integral to humanities daily activities, understanding the basic tenets of these new dimensions are preponderant. In 2011, the Internet celebrated its 20th birthday. In 2013, most of humanity continues to fail in understanding the golden rule of all new territory exploration. What always comes with opportunity and new frontiers are elements unknown and potentially dangerous. It is these unknown and dangerous elements, lurking within cyberspace, which ICT users and their loved ones must be vigilant about.
iPredator: A child, adult or group who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, abuse, victimization, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using information and communications technology (ICT.) iPredators are driven by deviant sexual fantasies, desires for power and control, retribution, religious fanaticism, political reprisal, psychiatric illness, perceptual distortions, peer acceptance or personal and financial gain. iPredators can be any age, either gender and not bound by socio-economic status, race or national heritage. Whether the offender is a cyber bully, cyber stalker, cyber criminal, online sexual predator, Internet troll or cyber terrorist, they fall within the scope of iPredator. The three measures used to define an iPredator include:
I. A self-awareness of directly or indirectly causing harm to others using ICT.
II. An intermittent to frequent usage of ICT to obtain exchange and disseminate harmful information.
III. A general understanding of Cyberstealth used to locate, stalk and engage a target using ICT.
Unlike traditional human predators prior to the Information Age, iPredators rely on the multitude of benefits offered by ICT. These assistances include exchange of information over long distances, rapidity of information exchanged and the seemingly infinite access to data available. Malevolent in intent, iPredators rely on their capacity to deceive others using ICT in an abstract electronic universe.
iPredator Bridge: iPredator Bridge is a theoretical tenet of iPredator representing the psychological, perceptual & behavioral trajectory of people who use ICT to harm others. Similar to the iPredator, they are motivated by personal convictions, greed, power, control, narcissism or psychopathology. Different from the iPredator, they have yet to fully engage in criminal/deviant activities, using ICT, or use complex perceptual distortions to validate the harm they cause. iPredator Bridge investigates why some people draw near to this nefarious and malevolent realm and either proceed in their maladaptive trajectory or cease and desist.
The iPredator Bridge is a symbolic representation of the approach, route and initial crossing into the realm of the iPredator. In a rudimentary and abstract way, it is posited that cyberspace, ICT and all future technological advancements, related to information technology, is an extension of the mind and the instinctual drives of the collective brain to replicate itself outside a human organism. Related to this postulate are the theoretical tenets of Carl Jung (1875-1961) and his construct of the Collective Unconscious.
“The collective unconscious – so far as we can say anything about it at all – appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual.” (Carl Jung – The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche)
Given that humanity is at the beginning of the Information Age, the motivating factors that lead some people to cross over into engaging in asocial behaviors using ICT cannot be explained. The concept of iPredator and iPredator Bridge construct assumes that ICT has unknown effects upon the mind and influence some to engage in destructive and self-destructive patterns. The creation of ICT and cyberspace is equivalent to the philosophical and psychological societal awe that was created when an astronaut took his first step upon the moon. Just as Neil Armstrong (8/5/30 – 8/25/12) stepped into a new celestial territory, humanity is doing the same here on Earth. This new territory is the abstract and artificial electronic universe known as cyberspace.
Enveloped by ICT, with its inevitable technological progression and societal dependence, humanity has become increasingly reliant upon ICT, cyberspace and the Internet’s paradigms of Digital Reputation & Digital Footprint. These two concepts alone have cost professionals, parents and business owners millions of dollars, and soon billions of dollars, as humanity attempts to present themselves in a positive light in cyberspace. The definition of Digital Reputation and Digital Footprint is as follows:
Digital Reputation: Digital Reputation is a term used to describe the reputation of an ICT user or business that is disseminated online and available to peers, superiors, loved ones and consumers. This information can be positive or negative and vital to the health, success and reputation of an ICT user or business. Digital Reputation is created and sustained by peers, school or work associates, loved ones, acquaintances, consumers, competitors, adversaries, online strangers and iPredators. Given the widespread growth and expansion of ICT, a positive digital reputation is vital to people, communities and business’s in order to thrive, survive and for attainment of personal and/or corporate endeavors.
Digital Reputation and the growing risks confronting ICT users and businesses have become increasingly endemic due to the escalating use and significance of the Internet as a communication platform. With the ascent of social media, the formation of Digital Reputation is an increasingly common process and the practices of Digital Reputation Management have become crucial for both individuals and corporate entities. An ICT user or business’s Digital Reputation is directly correlated to their Digital Footprint. Like Digital Footprint, an ICT user’s Digital Reputation is directly correlated to the quantity, quality, accuracy and extent of personal information they post or share online available and used by other ICT users.
Digital Footprint: Digital Footprint is a term used to describe the trail, traces or “footprints” that children, adults and businesses leave in cyberspace from their online activities using ICT. This is information that is obtained, exchanged or disseminated between ICT users. An ICT user’s Digital Footprint is created by social media information, forum registrations, e-mails, attachments, videos, digital images and other forms of communication via ICT that leave traces of personal and/or corporate information about someone and/or a business available to others online. An ICT user or business’s Digital Reputation is directly correlated to their Digital Footprint.
An ICT user or business’s Digital Reputation is created by a culmination of their Digital Footprints over a period. Like Digital Reputation, an ICT user’s Digital Footprint can be positive or negative and vital to their health, success and reputation. Personal information disclosed or shared online all contribute to an online user’s Digital Footprint in the age of social media. Like Digital Footprint, an ICT user’s Digital Reputation is directly correlated to the quantity, quality, accuracy and extent of personal information they post or share online available and used by other ICT users. It is for these reasons that a child, adult or business must be diligent in monitoring their Digital Footprint.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term used to define any electronic or digital communication device or application used to obtain exchange or disseminate information. ICT stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications, which enable users to create access, store, transmit, and manipulate information. ICT consists of all forms of telecommunication, information technology, broadcast media, audio and video processing, transmission and network based control and monitoring functions. ICT has rapidly become one of the basic building blocks of modern society and will become increasingly important as the Information Age matures.
Many industrialized nations now regard understanding ICT and mastering the basic skills and concepts of ICT is vital and considered part of the core of education, alongside reading, writing and arithmetic. The importance of ICT to humanity lies upon a continuum of relevance ranging from minimal impact to vital requirement regarding an ICT user’s day-to-day activities. For some, ICT and the Internet are nothing more than tools of convenience for conducting their responsibilities. For others, their social, scholastic, business and/or financial affairs disclosed in cyberspace and through ICT are crucial to their self-esteem, self-worth, success and perceptual world.
ICT has changed the way humanity interacts, exchanges and accesses information. Smartphones, mobile device technology and social media are the latest in a succession of advancements growing at a feverish pace. It is often hard to fathom that the Internet, used by two billion plus people globally, only celebrated its 20th birthday in 2011.
As of March 2012, data compiled from Nielsen Online, International Telecommunications Union and GfK has led Internet World Stats to estimate there are 2, 267,233,742 people globally are Internet users as of December 31, 2011. From 2000-2011, the number of Internet users has grown 528% and is just .3% shy of including 1/3 of all human inhabitants walking the planet. Despite its already significant impact, the pace of new-technology introductions and number of Internet users will continue to grow at an accelerated rate with access to and the exchange of information being a priori. The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), an ongoing initiative to track and forecast the impact of visual networking applications has projected an explosion in ICT and mobile device technology by 2016. Some of Cisco’s VNI projections are as follows:
1. Annual global IP traffic will surpass the zettabytethreshold (1.3 zettabytes) by the end of 2016. In 2016, global IP traffic will reach 1.3 zettabytes per year or 110.3 exabytes per month.
2. Global IP traffic has increased eightfold over the past 5 years, and will increase threefold over the next 5 years. Overall, IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29% from 2011 to 2016.
3. In 2016, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross global IP networks every 3 minutes. Global IP networks will deliver 12.5 petabytesevery 5 minutes in 2016.
4. The number of devices connected to IP networks will be nearly 3X as high as the global population in 2016. There will be nearly three networked devices per capita in 2016, up from over one networked device per capita in 2011.
5. Traffic from wireless devices will exceed traffic from wired devices by 2014. In 2016, wired devices will account for 39% of IP traffic, while Wi-Fi and mobile devices will account for 61% of IP traffic. In 2011, wired devices accounted for the majority of IP traffic at 55%. (Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016)
Although ICT benefits far outweigh detriments for society, humanity has been seduced by the notion that more technology translates into a better quality of life. The concept of being “connected” paradoxically makes humanity less connected to what is really happening globally. As ICT becomes increasingly widespread, the fewer citizens know their neighbors and the more they engage with people, they are “connected” to in cyberspace and ICT. It seems that humanity is slowly separating from one another, isolating themselves with their technology and disconnecting from human contact on both literal and spiritual levels.
The Information Age is a societal paradigm and period beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century and presently thriving in the second decade of the 21st century. The Information Age is a stage in societal and technological development similar to the Industrial Revolution(1750-1942.) The Information Age represents the evolution, emergence, consumption of and reliance upon Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In a mere four decades, ICT and its importance to humanity have led many to surmise that the planet and its human inhabitants are amidst an Information Revolution. Mobile digital technology, telecommunications, social media and the abstract concept and artificial universe of cyberspace are just a few examples of humanities newest frontiers to obtain exchange and disseminate information.
The planet is experiencing a shift from traditional industry, born and bred during the Industrial Revolution, to an economy based on the creative and rapid manipulation of information. Just as the Industrial Revolution greatly changed the lives of humanity, the Information Revolution is a societal shift rapidly changing humanity’s social, economic and psychological conditions of the times. The Information Revolution marks another major turning point in human history, following the Industrial Revolution and changing every aspect of daily life unlike ever before. As humanity is at the beginning of the Information Age and with no manner to forecast its longevity, this new frontier of communication is also when historians will say Information and Communications Technology (ICT) had its origin.
Dark Psychology: Dark Psychology is a theoretical construct designed by this writer in 2006. Dark Psychology is defined as the study of the human condition as it relates to the instinctual, sociological and psychological nature of people to prey upon others that falls along a continuum ranging from purposive and/or instinctual to purposeless and anti-evolutionary or evil. All of humanity has this potential to victimize other humans & living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses.
Dark Psychology seeks to understand the cognitive, affective, behavioral and perceptual states that lead to predatory behavior. Dark Psychology assumes that this production is purposive and has some rational, goal-oriented motivation 99% of the time. The remaining 1%, under Dark Psychology, is the brutal victimization of others without purposive intent or reasonably defined by evolutionary science or religious dogma.
Within the next century, the growth of Information and Communications Technology (ICT,) iPredators and their acts of theft, violence and abuse will become a global phenomenon and societal epidemic if not squashed. Segments of iPredators include cyber stalkers, cyber bullies, cyber terrorists, cyber criminals, online sexual predators and political/religious fanatics engaged in cyber warfare. Just as Dark Psychology views all criminal/deviant behavior on a continuum of severity and purposive intent, the theory of iPredator follows the same framework, but involves abuse, theft, assault and victimization in cyberspace.
Dark Psychology includes all criminal and deviant behaviors committed upon other innocent victims. Although many people are intrigued by the discussion of the serial killer and psychopath, the vast majority of predators hunting human prey are not engaged in murder or sexual deviance. If this writer were to make an estimate, he would put the percentage of human predators at roughly 70% of the total pool of people who are out to victimize others, but who are not involved in murder or sexual deviance. The remaining 30% is the most dangerous because they seek physical human contact.
In relationship to iPredators and those who target vulnerable ICT seeking digital reputation, they fall within this writer’s estimate of 70% because they are driven by greed, seeking financial gain and not seeking to molest or physically harm their victims.