The Right To Be Forgotten. What is it and What Does it Mean for Your Business?
Don’t pretend you haven’t done it. We all Google ourselves, but what if your results keep turning up something you don’t want everyone to know? Future employers seeing debt you used to owe or embarrassing affiliations from when you were a minor. Do you have the right to be forgotten? How do you combat negative press when the right to be forgotten hasn’t made it to the U.S.? What does this mean for businesses?
In 2014 the European Court of Justice (similar to our supreme court), ruled that the right to be forgotten is a human right, when Mario Costeja González sought to remove search results mentioning his own personal debt. At this point the European Union and Argentina are the only ones that have legally put the right to be forgotten into practice. If there is potentially damaging information about an individual online, individuals have the right to request that search engines remove those URLs from their database. Here in the United States, where freedom of speech reigns supreme, we are far from having this policy implemented.
The Good. The Bad.
At first glance you may be thinking, hell yeah! Now I can’t rid the internet of my embarrassing first profile pics and Twitter rants about past jobs I hated. Upon closer inspection this ability would allow people to rewrite history and limit public access to knowledge. While the right to be forgotten would go a long way to protect people from being associated with things like crimes they were never convicted of or an angry ex’s attempt to damage a reputation, proceeding carefully is a must to protect access to information.
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
The right to be forgotten shows us how powerful an online reputation is when nations are ruling that negative results should be removed from search engines. As a business owner you come across negative results about your business all the time. It’s just a part of the game. People love ranting online. We all wish we could take those negative online reviews and make them disappear. While this is a pipe dream, there are things you can do to combat these negative results.
What To Do
Make sure you are responding to every review about your business, both positive and negative. It’s easy to get frustrated and ignore a negative review, or take positive reviews for granted, but responding to reviews is showing that you are an engaged and caring business. You are able to hopefully solve a problem with a response to a negative review and leave a positive reviewer with a warm and fuzzy feeling after shooting them a thank you.
Seek out reviews. Online reviews can be one sided. People will leave reviews only when they have a negative experience, and simply leave happy without alerting the internet (gasp) when they have an awesome experience. Seeking out positive reviews means giving potential customers a more realistic view of your business.
Brag about yourself. Take those positive reviews and amplify them. Using positive reviews in website copy, social posts and blog posts means that you are multiplying their positive effect when it comes to your online reputation.
If there is one thing we can learn from the right to be forgotten it is that online reputation is important. Don’t let your business suffer from negative reviews. We can help.