Cyberbullying can rear its ugly head for adults as well as children, according to consumer advocates.
The Connecticut Better Business Bureau said business owners complain about false or malicious reviews, some of which are posted by unhappy customers, but also by competitors and disgruntled former employees.
Sometimes those cases have lead to legal battles. Some companies have even resorted to having customers sign an agreement that would bar them from posting negative comments online.
The BBB said the earliest and most pervasive form of online trashing is aimed at other people, including ex-husbands, wives or others hurt in relationships. The posts can be false, libelous or at the very least, mean-spirited.
Popular venues for that kind of behavior are social media websites.
The BBB said negative posts can be removed, but only to a degree.
Google, it said, will take down posts that reveal someone's social security number, banking or credit card information, or the image of a handwritten signature.
However, websites from which search engines pull their information may not want to remove comments or hostile exchanges.
The BBB suggests the following to keep an eye on your online status:
If people are unable to solve the problems themselves, consider hiring an online reputation management company.
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