Info-tech

India Inc takes on cyber-bullying with dedicated teams, Web tools

Rajesh Kurup Adith Charlie Mumbai | Updated on December 30, 2013

‘Better safe than sorry’ is the motto



Indian corporates are stepping up their fight against the increasing menace of cyber-bullying. Dedicated teams and software now patrol the Web regularly, while online reputation management firms are on standby mode at most corporates.

Cyber-bullying refers to posting negative comments or complaints on the Web by disgruntled employees, or the competition, or customers dissatisfied with a firm’s products or services.

“One of the biggest advantages of the Internet is its anonymity. Now, when people put out rumours about a company on the Web and others ‘like’ them, they become viral, and many times the organisation would not be aware of this,” said Shree Parthasarathy, Senior Director, Deloitte in India.

“These may be just rumours, but they could have huge implications on the reputation of a firm,” Parthasarathy said, adding, telecom, banking, IT and manufacturing were the sectors largely targeted in India.

With the motto ‘better safe than sorry’, many companies have put processes and policies in place. For instance, RPG Group uses software tools — Board Reader and Social Mention — to trawl the net, and conduct random checks on #hashtags (used to highlight a topic).

“When there is some negative news, it is paramount to save the evidence, as it could be deleted. Then, we must establish a dialogue with the person behind the post to understand the reasons,” said Sumeet Chatterjee, Corporate Brand Custodian of the RPG Group.

Corrective actions

If the organisation is at fault, the best thing is to own up, offer an apology and take corrective actions, Chatterjee said, adding, online reputation management is a recent practice at RPG.

Tech Mahindra has a dedicated five-member digital marketing team to scan the Web for negative posts. Additionally, it also has brand ambassadors (employees) tasked with countering negative comments on the Web. The IT firm once removed a negative comment purportedly posted under Chairman Anand Mahindra’s name, confirmed a Tech Mahindra spokesperson.

Individuals ganging up against brands and companies form the worst kind of cyber-bullying, said Kiruba Shankar, CEO at social media consultancy firm Business Blogging.

No hushing down

“We encourage clients not to hush down negative comments. Every time somebody tries to do that, people get angry and go to other platforms to vent their ire,” Shankar added.

Incidentally, any comment made on social media platforms tends to attract higher page ranks on Google search. While Facebook gets an 8/10, Wikipedia and Twitter get 9/10, and that of an average corporate site may just be 2/10.

However, Ganesh Natarajan, Chief Executive Officer, Zensar Technologies, wants corporates to take online negative comments in their stride. “I am really not in favour of companies trying to confront it…I completely believe there is a ‘freedom of expression’ angle, and we should ignore such remarks,” Natarajan said.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

adith.charlie@thehindu.co.in

Published on December 29, 2013

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