Sample English Essays on Reputation Defense: Countering Rumors

Introduction

Rumors can be a source of reputation destruction, and are apt to result in relationship strains either in the work place or at home. It has been established that it is easier to accept rumors that are somehow aligned to preexisting personal beliefs and values than to accept truths that counter pre-existing beliefs. In the online and offline spaces, rumors can be destructive not only to personal reputations but also to beliefs, value systems and personal self esteem. It is therefore crucial to understand what constitutes a rumor and what fuels its spread. Just like a normal fire, the fire of rumor constitutes of three components namely the heat, the fuel and the air (National Fire Protection Association par. 5). The heat is what drives the rumor such as the hatred that the rumor creator has for the victim. The fuel on the other hand is the different media that is used to propagate the rumor while the fan is the reaction that people give to the rumor based on its spread in the community. In the contemporary times, the social media and various other internet based media platforms have been the most prevalent fuel for rumor spread and can be extremely detrimental to personal and organizational reputations. Managing rumors can be very challenging hence the need to be strategic about it. There are various tools that can be used by victims to defend their reputation in the face of a spreading rumor that is bound to destroy their online identities.

Reputation Defender Services

Studying and understanding the trajectory of a rumor can help to create strategies that help in combating the rumor. Studies conducted in the past showed that rumors spread based on a variety of reasons, including ignorance, malice and many others. Through such studies, researchers engaged in rumor creation and propagation to determine the influences towards the spread of rumors and eventually to formulate practices for combating the rumor. Various factors including anxiety, fright, and the message of the rumor are usually cited as the conditions favoring rumor repetition. For instance, fright and anxiety result in repetition as people feel the need to access help before exacerbation of the situation in perspective. On the other hand, messages that seem compelling enough, particularly those surrounding sickness, death and injury, are more likely to be repeated than others.

Upon identification of the reason for rumor repetition, it is essential to understand what features make the rumor good enough or acceptable by others. According to Behrens and Rosen (479) various features can contribute to rumor acceptability including the addition of a humorous twist, elimination of qualifications and complexities, addition of striking aesthetic details, exaggeration, simplification of the plot and the use of a more familiar form. By understanding which of these features can be attributed to an existing rumor, it is possible to dispel them. Discrediting a rumor can be a difficult task, which is difficult to attain without the cancellation of past beliefs that people have about particular phenomena. The combination of many of these features results in a vigorous rumor that not only gets to the mind of the audience but is also subject to extensive oral dissemination Behrens and Rosen (480). As a victim of reputation destruction through rumors therefore, salvaging a spent reputation requires the implementation of extensive practices that will counter the impacts of rumor mongering.

Research has shown than most rumors are driven by a deep desire for the truth and for more information. Negative rumors are prurient and in most cases, serve as glue to other peoples’ social networks. This explains that contrary to the conventional approach of not dignifying a rumor with a response, the most effective way for curtailing rumors is through spreading them. By spreading a rumor, the affected individuals contribute to the social fabric by providing the information that the rumor recipients’ desire. However, fueling the social blogosphere does not necessarily mean supporting the rumor even if it is untrue (Behrens and Rosen 484). Contrariwise, the victim can provide an account of the accurate information and use the same channels for spreading rumors to counter the negative impacts of the initial, false information that the rumor recipients have.

In the online sphere, people spread rumors neither for their own benefits nor for the benefits of the recipients. Rather, they spread the rumors to spice up their social media space and build a social profile. In this case, people will spread rumors that target specific audience groups. For instance, online rumors can be aimed at spreading information about impending trouble to friends, or to help friends in a certain way (Behrens and Rosen 513). This also explains why people would never spread rumors on specific subjects about specific people due to the probable damage that the rumors would cause. To the perpetrator, rumors in such online platforms are an act of altruism in that they create a form of relevance to the people who spread them. This is particularly true if the rumor is some form of useful information that can help in attaining value in another sector of interpersonal relationships. For the victims, such rumors can be difficult to contain as it would imply getting people interested in other information that is not only beneficial to the people who spread rumors but also to those who receive the rumors (Behrens and Rosen 514). Information about subjects that are higher than the victim of the rumors is usually effective in countering rumors. However, it is always futile to counter rumors that are true because the curiosity of finding information will always push people to extract facts about a rumor.

In order to dispel rumors that are detrimental to the reputation of an individual and/ or an organization, one of the strategies to use is to avoid the ‘no comments’ policy, which most people try to use as cover-up. Recognizing the fact that rumors are fueled by uncertainty would be the first step towards effectively eliminating the negative effects of rumors (Behrens and Rosen 515). One sure way would be to publicly provide a background to the rumor, explain its origin and describe the beneficiaries of the rumor. A reputation service such as Reputation Maxx works effectively by filtering information that is available and easily accessible online. When a negative rumor is spread about a victim, the most likely response of the recipients is to go online for more information. A service such as Reputation Maxx ensures that once those who are interested in finding facts about a rumor victim search for those facts online, all they see are positive aspects of the victim’s reputation (Reputation Maxx par. 2). In this way, the quest for greater detail is satisfied and the victim’s reputations can be salvaged.

Where the rumors are true, confirming them, giving a background to the decisions made as to initiate the rumors and providing a promise of future efficiency can help to salvage a dying reputation. The best way to fight the rumor is to provide a comprehensive address of its components. A more vivid replacement to the rumor than the rumor itself is effective towards reputation defense (Behrens and Rosen 515). Some reputation defense services act fast to remove all negative information about a victim from the internet (Chierotti par. 3). This is similar to an offline rebuttal in the sense that the service not only removes the first and only existing negative information about the subject but also ensures that the said information is also removed from such engine indexes. When compounded with a comprehensive address in a different platform, this strategy works effectively in reputation defense. The comprehensive address can also function as a rebuttal to the rumor. According to Behrens and Rosen (515-516), an effective rumor rebuttal provides a new truth to the recipients of the rumor, and when done effectively, can shorten the life of a rumor significantly.

Conclusion

Rumors can affect the reputations of the victims significantly. Various factors drive rumors and understanding the exact reason for a rumor can be a good starting point for the discussion on managing reputations. For any rumor victim to effectively defend their reputation following online rumors, it is necessary to examine the source of the rumor. Reputation defense services use different strategies to counter the impacts of rumor. For instance, there are those that focus on removing all negative information on a victim’s reputation from initial online sources and others that counter the negative information presented with positive facts and then increase the visibility of those positive facts relative to the negative rumors. These strategies are aligned to those that have been discussed by Behrens and Rosen (508- 516), and are thus effective in reputation management after a damaging rumor.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Behrens, Laurence M. and Rosen, Leonard J. Writing and reading across the curriculum. Pearson Education Limited, 2012.

Chierotti, Joseph. “Do you need internet reputation defenders?” A Medium Corporation. 18 August, 2014. medium.com/reputation-management/should-you-hire-an-internet-reputation-defender-7ed39716e736.

National Fire Protection Association. “Reporter’s guide: all about fire.” National fire Protection Association. www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/News-and-media/Press-Room/Reporters-Guide-to-Fire-and-NFPA/All-about-fire. Accessed 9 November 2018.

Reputation Maxx. “Reputation Defense Services Clean Up Your Online Reputation.” Reputations Defense Services. reputationdefenseservices.com/. Accessed 9 November 2018.