Digital reputation at risk in mistaken identity case
A case of mistaken identity leaves Luke fighting for his reputation.
Luke Judge is head of business development at Net Media Planet, an award winning specialist paid search agency.
In June 2010 Luke was emailed by a colleague alerting him to a post on an Internet marketer’s blog in which another ‘Luke Judge’ was accused of having copied the content and layout from an existing website to make money online. It was also implied that Luke Judge was involved in scamming and the post stated that he was currently embroiled in legal proceedings as a result of his alleged actions.
Whilst Luke had been mistaken for someone of the same name, and had never been involved in any of the activities he was accused of, both he and Net Media Planet were explicitly identified in the blog. A link to Net Media Planet’s website had been posted, and Luke’s contact details, as well as email address and a link to his LinkedIn profile, were included along with a message encouraging readers to contact him.
This case of mistaken identity had potentially disastrous consequences for both Luke and Net Media Planet. On Googling Luke Judge, the blog post was ranking on page one and, given the nature of the allegations, threatened both Luke’s personal and professional reputation, and that of his employer.
Luke was extremely concerned that this would not only negatively impact his career and the digital identity he had been building for many years across sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, but also damage relationships with friends, colleagues and potential clients.
The fact that the company name was referenced had severe implications for the business, and could have led to the loss of clients. An existing client, who had set up Google alerts for Net Media Planet as part of a contract, had also seen the blog post and contacted Luke for an explanation. This all happened at a time they were pitching for new business and these allegations could have hindered their chances of success.
Despite sending messages to the writer and commenting on the blog post offering to prove his identity, it was two weeks before Luke received a response. The site owner then agreed to amend the post, removing all details that identified Luke as the culprit and any reference to Net Media Planet. Luke also ensured there was a no follow link so the post would not rank on Google.
Luke comments: “This experience has highlighted both how vulnerable our digital identities are, and the dangers of mistaken identity. Your reputation is both what you do and what others say about you – and in a digital age we have to be even more careful to protect against what others say online.”
“As we do more and more online our digital identities have become greater assets. But it’s becoming increasingly important to actively manage our online identities so that we can, for example, differentiate ourselves from others with the same name – if I’d had a miiCard I would have been able to prove my real identity quickly and easily. We need to be able to proactively protect our online reputation, and to have the ability to prove ‘you are who you say you are online’ makes this much more manageable.”