Lies travel at the speed of the Internet – what to do if they’re about you

71367500 One of the amazing things about the Internet is the speed at which information is shared and digested.  When a young journalist was jailed in Egypt that was a good thing.

But for American Airlines, sometimes the speed stings.  Bad.

All over the net (and in print pubs like the Washington Times) headlines like "American Airlines Charges Soldiers For Extra Bags" appeared and then the stories go on to describe how American Airlines is charging soldiers traveling on orders to Iraq or elsewhere a fee for their 2nd and 3rd bags, in alignment with their new policies.

It’s a doozy of a headline.  But, it’s not true.  For the whole story, check out what the Seattle Times has to say.

But what should you do if you find your company in the spot American Airlines has been in – at the receiving end of false information (or misinformation) on a blog?

  • Secure the facts first.  The last thing you want to do to accidentally deny something that’s got a kernel of truth in it or give false information.
  • Write a response that is clear (no weasel words), free of emotion and professional.
  • Decide how you’d like to release the response (based on the tone, impact, intent of original blog post).
  • Execute your plan and be accessible for follow up questions.
  • If you have a blog, deal with it there as well, even if it wasn’t raised there.  That’s where many people will go to see if you have responded.

When you’re in the cross hairs — you need to respond quickly and judiciously.  Unlike the good old days, you don’t have a lot of time to ponder the possibilities.  If you’re wondering how quickly a spark can build into an inferno, ask American Girl.