Since the widespread adoption of this wonderful gift we call the internet, companies have been trying to find a way to micro-manage all aspects of their public persona. But with 24x7x365x "however many users online at any given time", this goal can be frustratingly
pointless and ultimately unrealistic. The fact is we are no more capable of stopping someone online from saying bad things about us than we were in keeping the schoolyard bully from picking on us in grammar school. Mean people, and not so mean people, will
say things about us that we don't like and can't control. It's a fact of life that predated the internet and will be one long after we've moved on to the next iteration of human communication.
Now I'm not suggesting that companies ignore defamatory blogs or that they not make any attempt to protect their online brands. Your online identity is just as important as your bricks and mortar one. But I am suggesting, that companies pick their battles
wisely because no one wants to be perceived as the Goliath picking on little ol' David.
Between 2004 and 2008, there were
159 lawsuits filed against bloggers, most often for libel. Of these few resulted in victories but they did serve to do two things: intimidate the blogging community at least to some degree and make many corporates seem like bullies picking on the little
guy (or gal). But there was another result--bad publicity for the company and increased visibility for the blogger.
Like most people, I have never heard or read most of the bloggers or the blogs that get sued. As of March, there were more than
1.5 billion people who use the internet or approximately 25% of the entire world population and there are more than 177 million domain names. So getting visibility on a blog or domain URL is critical for serious bloggers. When companies consider who to
fight and when to protect their on-line brands, they should keep the statistics in mind. Sometimes, it really is better to say nothing at all than to create a story and publicity for someone who desperately wants an audience.