Last week, an online journal, SearchEngineLand, ran a story about a supposed drop in organic search traffic to the Daily Mail’s website. It carried quotes, which it claimed came from the news publisher’s ‘SEO Director’ Jesus Mendez.

But had Mr Mendez really said what the website was claiming he had? Did anyone check?

As SearchEngineLand stated in its article, ‘that’s according to a post in the Google Search Console Product Forms from a user claiming to be Jesus Mendez’. (My bold and italics).

Having enjoyed a 15 year career in journalism, it staggers me that such a flimsy source could be used as the basis of an article. SearchEngineLand goes onto say that it has ‘reached out to Mr Mendez’ for comment, but has nothing official from him either affirming or disputing the story. Despite this, it ran the piece anyway.

It’s not for me to comment on the accuracy of the story or SearchEngineLand’s news gathering techniques.

But this serves as yet more evidence, that anything which even looks like it might have originated from you, can and is being reported as fact by news outlets. Posts in specialised forums which you hope no-one outside your immediate circle will ever see, even (and we do not know if this is what happened in this case), someone using your name as their user name in a forum and passing themselves off as you, Tweets you sent 3 years ago…all of that and more is fair game.

And of course once the material is out there, once the social media shares click into overdrive and everyone is passing comment on you, there’s no taking it back and regaining control. It may as well be fact, and you may as well have taken out an advert and plastered it all over a national newspaper.

People in high profile roles need to understand the potential for any individual to make mischief and post material they claim has come from you. Don’t waste time trying to understand their motivation, just accept the fact that this could happen and it could happen to you.

Are you monitoring online channels for mention of your name? Not just the business or organisation name but the names of key staff members? Having an early warning would at least give you the chance to quash the story before it spreads. If the material was genuinely yours, you could delete it, or at least be prepared to respond when it gathers more attention than you anticipated.

Comsteria is able to monitor the web and social media platforms for the use of any relevant names or keywords that you are interested in and we can provide training, tailored to your team and senior management on how to stay protected and minimise the risks. Contact us today to find out more.