The Good Old Days
Our fast paced instant access world has dramatically changed how celebrities manage their images. In the days before Google, Instagram, Twitter, and a host of other media outlets, celebrities didn’t have to be concerned about every move they made. All poorly chosen words, indiscretions, and bad hair days only needed hidden from the Paparazzi. If an unflattering bit of gossip made it into the public eye, a few lavish gestures of kindness or a repentant press conference could smooth things right away. If something particularly inflammatory surfaced, a libel suit and retraction usually repaired any reputation damage. Often, cozying up with journalists by granting exclusive interviews or special access to photo shoots would protect a celebrity from extreme scrutiny.
A Game Changer
Enter modern technology and everything changes. At first, unflattering Facebook posts and information amassed on Google were the largest online reputation threats. As technology advanced reputation management became more difficult. Celebrities find themselves scrutinized and criticized on an almost constant basis. In addition to verbal reputation damage, unknown photographs, videos and voice recordings can do massive and career altering damage with enormous consequences. In the 2012 Presidential election candidate and Republican Party nominee, Mitt Romney’s campaign was rocked to its foundation by a recording of Romney. The recording, taken at a fundraiser, allows the public to see Romney’s true feelings about various groups of American’s, especially the poor and working class. His Presidential campaign never recovered. Another example would be the destruction of former Food Network diva Paula Deen. Her entire empire crumbled after reports of racist comments she had made surfaced. Instant access to so much information by nearly everyone is alarming fact to celebrities and they are turning to Reputation Management firms to help.
How Did We Get Here?
Reputation management is an essential part of public life in the twenty-first century. Celebrities are seeing that protecting themselves, their families, and their brand is more important than ever. Especially considering the fact that anyone can go online and claim anything they want to claim with nearly no fear of repercussions. More so, getting started with online reputation management is easy. This is particularly simple because the Internet grew and expanded so quickly that no mandatory laws or systems are in place to authenticate claims or identities. The antiquated Communications Decency Act passed in 1996, and is not up to date with the current internet abilities or the plethora of social media outlets. According to this law, website operators assume no legal liability over what posted content on their websites. Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act reads, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This is frightening at best and potentially destructive at worst.