While you do have control over if and how you build your online presence, you typically lack control about what others say about you in online comments and on social media.The larger your presence, the more likely you are exposing yourself to feedback – both positive and negative. Even if you haven’t built out your social-media presence, you run the risk of being exposed to one of social media’s dark sides: the personal attack. Anybody can be a publisher — or an attacker When you’re attacked on social media, it can feel like the community has already made its mind up about you until you can prove your innocence.In the past, traditional media typically filtered mass messages to particular audiences, limiting the likelihood of harm as well as its effects. Now, anyone is a publisher to unlimited, worldwide audiences, without nearly as many filters. This greatly increases the potential for harm.

In this environment of instantaneous outbursts of micro-messages, the damage is done the instant something is tweeted or posted online. What is posted online can also be re posted and continue to live long after the original message has been deleted. Those attacked now have a greater need to minimize harm to their reputation, and to do so quickly. The form of the harm can be much more complicated too. People can incorrectly take a comment you make out of context (which in some states could potentially be ground for a false light claim); they can share hurtful opinions (which are generally protected speech under defamation law); or expose a truth that is less than flattering to you (a statement isn't defamatory if true).

Social-media sites have typically taken a hands-off approach to personal attacks launched by one user against another. Twitter currently provides a form for reporting abusive users and details of the behavior. It also suggests contacting local authorities to resolve the issues offline “if the interaction has gone beyond the point of name calling.”
Facebook also provides guidelines for reporting violations. It suggests hiding the abusive item from your news feed, sending a message to the poster asking them to take the item down, and unfriending or blocking the person. Near every Timeline post, Facebook provides a tool that lets you report harassing or offensive behavior: Besides reporting an offensive tweet to the site, or reporting someone to the police if the harm is severe enough, what can you do if someone says something less than flattering about you or your organization? And what can you do to make sure you’re ready to handle a personal attack? four  steps for responding to an attack, There are a number of effective strategies for overcoming the harm caused by a personal attack on social media. And your response can be a democratic one that includes fighting bad speech with more (good) speech.
If someone’s attacked you on social media, here are  steps for responding:
1. Don’t panic.
While this seem like a social-media crisis, realize you aren’t the first person to experience the nastiness of such an attack. Don’t freak out. Suspend judgment. Don’t take what has been said personally. Resist the urge to react right away
Instead, take a deep breath and think about what options exist.

2. Figure out if (and how) you want to respond.
Consider the motivation of the attacker: Are they just seeking attention? Are they misinformed? Based on this, what’s the best approach? What value would come from engaging with the attacker? What’s the best way to minimize any harm caused by the situation?

3. Respond quickly publicly, then take the follow-up conversation offline In most cases it’s good to respond quickly in the same venue where the attack was made by sending a brief, temperate message recognizing you saw the attack. Then, if appropriate, try to follow up in a more private way that can extend beyond 140 characters, such as a phone call or email. Consider what value would come with taking the conversation offline. Figure out your goals for a follow-up conversation and let them drive your communication.

4. Fight bad speech with more speech
Social media is often a double-edged sword: it can be an effective platform that elevates your profile, but it also exposes you to direct feedback, including negative comments or false information. While you can’t always anticipate when someone may post something hurtful or harmful, it’s helpful to develop a plan in advance for how you will respond to such a post thoughtfully.

To develop your plan, ask yourself this questions:

How can my social-media use support a strategy?
Both organizations and individuals should have strategies that guide their social-media use. Organizations should have a clear sense of their content goals, and how social media can help them reach these goals. How you respond to an attack can be a reflection of your employer as much as it is a reflection of yourself. It is helpful before you or your organization faces a social-media crisis to have values-based conversations about common ethical pressure points you confront in social media. For example, how transparent should you be about your work in posts? 

How should you reflect your biases and your beliefs in your social-media posts?
Social media is personal and lets you reveal as much about yourself as you decide you want to. Individuals should also take responsibility for what they post online, and create personal strategies to guide them. For example, my colleague Fiderine Iranga said she never retweets something that she hasn’t already read. Another common strategy I follow is an 80/20 rule: I try to post content I think is beneficial to my audience 80 percent of the time, and forgive myself for posting content I would consider self-promotional (and is ideally beneficial to my audience) no more than 20 percent of the time.
A social-media attack can be your opportunity to take a lemon and turn it into lemonade — something productive for your personal brand. When you are aware, proactive and strategic, you can not only mitigate harm from a social-media attack but also use the incident to build and enhance your impact on those you reach through social media.

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