The most well-known online reputation problems typically fall into a category that I refer to as “catastrophic.” Many people make online mistakes each day, but only a few online errors will spiral out of control, go viral and end-up causing economic damage or personal misfortune. An online catastrophe gets widely shared, makes the news and has people talking — sometimes laughing.
We have seen many examples:
- An executive writes an inappropriate tweet and loses her job.
- A public company CFO accidentally leaks insider information on his Twitter account – drawing attention from investors and regulators alike.
- A pilot suggests one of the presidential candidates should be executed – drawing a suspension and forcing the airline to explain why the guy belongs on the payroll.
- A professional athlete publishes a picture of his junk on social media (too many to mention.)
In these worst-case scenarios, a social media post gets shared, catches the eye of mainstream media outlets and then ends up everywhere. They are the most difficult to manage.