Social media has taken mass communication into the 21st century, allowing information to be shared in real time and connecting people around the world to share in the human experience. It has given the average person a voice to share their views and particularly, their outrage. Ideas like the right to be forgotten are becoming more prominent in an age that sees embarrassing human behaviour go viral in seconds. When that fails, a content removal service may be the only true way to bury the past for good.
Perhaps most distressing, in this case, is when someone has been the victim of an online attack. There have always been plenty of websites designed to allow users to publicly identify others and expose them for their supposed transgressions. While hiding behind false righteousness, these services designed to help inform others overlook the likelihood that many will abuse it in order to hurt a person’s reputation.
The problem in some cases can be severe according to Pew Research Center 2017 report. The study found that four in ten Americans have experienced harassment online and 62% consider it a major issue. A shocking 45% say it has caused them mental or emotional stress and 25% say it has negatively affected their reputation in some way.
For example, websites like the Dirty.com have become an increasingly popular forum for people to expose romantic partners for betrayal or for other unscrupulous behaviours. Beyond that, this particular site allows users to simply insult people for their appearance or lifestyle without even pointing to a reason for their being outed. Sites like these run unchecked and can often be used for targeted harassment and even libel which could have lasting effects on a person’s professional and mental well being.
Whether a person simply made a mistake, or they are a victim of an online attack, sites like the Dirty allow users to label another which will then spread through their online community. The site is protected by freedom of speech laws and its creator has enjoyed the financial success of the site so it is unlikely to be taken down. A service like The Dirty removal from a reputation management professional may be the only way to guarantee the content disappears.
Young people are particularly susceptible to such sites as they are geared toward young urban people, with different sites for each major Canadian city adding the risk that the subjects location will be shared. This factor also increases Google traffic as it pairs a persons name with a specific city.The Pew report states that 24% of victims experienced mental or emotional stress as a result of their online harassment. The effects range from stress, problems with family and friends, relationships and even loss of employment.