We all have a reputation on the Internet, and whatever we don't define, some people will be happy to do it for us. Some of them may have a grudge, and not be very particular about the truth. You may find yourself being accused of something you did not do. How do you defend yourself and erase your false reputation?
Take a Breath
Before you dive in, stop and remember two things: First, anybody who knows you will likely know that this is false, and secondly, you are dealing with a bully. They want to provoke a reaction, to assert power over you. The last thing you should do is put the ball in their court, so think carefully before responding to attempts to stick you with a misleading reputation.
Weigh In Civilly
The first thing to do is to politely, and directly, reply to the accusations. For example, if somebody is accusing you of a crime, you might ask them nicely why they're taking their case to the Internet and not the police. It's very easy to illustrate how absurd a smear campaign is, and deflect an unjust reputation, if you simply point out the obvious logical flaws. Similarly, avoid making threats, especially legal threats. Taking this behavior seriously gives it legitimacy and will goad the rumormonger on.
Demand Proof, Politely
Ask the accuser if they have any proof; odds are either that they don't, or they've got a very twisted version of the facts. Politely but firmly demand why they believe what they're saying. If they present twisted facts, simply correct them. Look at the conversation from the perspective of an outsider, somebody who doesn't know you or your accuser. Who are they more likely to believe, the polite person responding with a reasonable request for proof, or the person who will likely not take your lack of reaction well? This is one of your best defenses against a smeared reputation.
Force Them to Reveal Themselves
Always request their real name, especially if you're conducting the conversation as yourself. After all, you're conducting the conversation as yourself in good faith, so surely they can do the same. The more you bear down on the fact that this person is anonymous, and not presenting any facts but simply making wild accusations, the less credible they'll seem, and the more they'll be the ones stuck with a bad reputation.
For Any Genuinely Dangerous Problems, Go Over Their Head
If a person attempts to post your personal contact information on the Internet, do not engage them but instead alert the website's operator. Generally behavior like this is a violation of their terms of service, and the content will be removed, or in extreme cases, the entire site shut down. Sticking people with an unjust reputation is ultimately a bad idea, after.
If They Keep It Up, Fight Negative With Positive
Most would-be smearers stop when they discover they can't goad a reaction out of you, and are just making themselves look ridiculous. But some will keep trying, and may get some traction. Start posting about positive things you've done, and with the right practices, you'll drive negative articles far down your search results and protect against a false reputation.
ReputationDefender can help you fight smear campaigns by removing negative results from various search engines. We can also help you protect your privacy so that the smear campaign doesn't leave the Internet. Get help keeping the smear campaign at bay and call ReputationDefender today.