Do you know how to ‘Google’?

Googleliser is an incongruous verb that has found its way into our everyday language. But what exactly does it mean to Googlelise? Googleliser, or Googliser, simply means to search for information on Google. Today, Google is not only the number one search engine in the world, but also the main source of information through the sharing of opinions and information. The implications for e-reputation are, you guessed it, huge.

Google and online reputation diagnosis

Google is also used to see what people are saying about you or your business. This will certainly not have escaped you. This is what we call online reputation monitoring. Just type your name, first name or company name in the search engine’s search bar to find out everything that is being said about you. It is essential to do this monitoring by “googling”, especially when you are a company director. This is known as e-reputation for managers, or e-reputation for companies. You should know that Google has 95% of the market share of online searches. Its influence on your e-reputation is enormous. You should therefore have the reflex to type in your name, or the name of your company, to examine the various search results: images, videos, news, etc.

Revenge porn, false opinions… when freedom of expression becomes defamation

When it comes to online reputation, the rule is quite simple: if you don’t take care of your e-reputation, others will take care of it for you, and they won’t do you any favours… “Revenge porn”, unjustified negative reviews on Google My Business or on customer review platforms (Glassdoor, Indeed, Trustpilot…)… online slander to damage the reputation of a person or a company has become commonplace. This can reach extremes, such as creating a blog whose sole purpose is to damage the e-reputation of a person or company.

We have all seen high-profile cases of “revenge porn”, a despicable scheme that consists of publishing pornographic content (image or video) on social networks or blogs, with the sole aim of damaging a person’s reputation. Webcam blackmail, degrading photomontages… more and more people are paying the price for this new form of cyber-harassment, which is highly damaging to their reputation. Remember the case of Benjamin Griveaux, LREM candidate for mayor of Paris in 2020, whose sexual videos were published on social networks.

Although less sensational, false opinions aimed at denigrating a brand/person on Google or on platforms are no less serious for the latter’s e-reputation. However, it is clear that “fake” reviews are everywhere on the Internet. Often, brands use them to hurt the reputation of a competitor, but also bitter employees who go on Indeed or Glassdoor to say all the – unfounded – bad things they think about their employer. At the level of individuals, it can be a politically motivated smear campaign, as seen in the Benjamin Griveaux case mentioned above.

There is no shortage of examples of false Google reviews. In Australia, for example, online defamation is now in the sights of the courts. This is the case of a dental practice in Melbourne, with an ideal reputation, which is being castigated by a comment. Rated 4.9/5 on Google, the dental surgeon in question discovered a completely defamatory negative review. He then took the matter to court to identify the author of this false testimony, but the damage had already been done…

In addition to the above-mentioned dentists, they also have private individuals among their clients. From the same date, all consumers have the possibility of requesting that disputes between them and professionals, in application of a sales or service contract, be resolved by mediation free of charge. However, it is noticeable that this route is increasingly being abandoned in favour of consumer association forums. This raises the question of the real motives of this category of complainants: dispute resolution or damage to reputation?

Obligation to appoint a mediator: the professionals concerned

As we said in the introduction, all professionals who have private individuals among their customers, regardless of the sales channel (physical shop or e-commerce site), have been obliged to appoint a consumer mediator since 1 January 2016. In detail, this obligation applies to professionals operating in various fields of activity: commercial, industrial, craft or liberal activities. Moreover, the obligation is maintained regardless of the size of the company, and concerns all sectors, with the exception of non-economic services of general interest, higher education and health services.

Furthermore, professionals who do not contract directly with private individuals (producers or manufacturers, for example) are not affected by this obligation. The aim of this new mechanism is to give consumers access to a consumer mediation channel for the amicable resolution of disputes.

Anonymous tattling is on the rise

Unfortunately, the mediation route is under-used, thanks to anonymous, often unobjective and incorrect reporting on the forums of consumer associations such as 60 millions de consommateurs. The question therefore arises as to the real motives for such an approach. For, why hide the mediator, if not to damage the brand image of a company or a professional who is being attacked. Clearly, the purpose of these attacks is not to resolve the dispute, but simply to destroy a reputation.

In Net Wash’s opinion, these associations seem to be simply surfing on the trend, taking advantage of the “fashion” of the denunciation under the pretext of helping consumers. At Net Wash, we have real, effective solutions to help companies, traders and craftsmen to defend themselves against these review forums.

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