Reputation risk with Vanity Directories

The other day a colleague of mine brought to my attention an advert on LinkedIn that reads as follows:
"Are You A Lawyer? - Apply Now For Inclusion In The Prestigious Madison Who's Who Registry! Read More "

The Read More link takes you straight to a website MadisonWhosWho.com which offers a ‘unique’ opportunity to be included in the ‘prestigious’ professional networking directory and networking platforms. It all sounded great and the website promises that it is all free

I went on the website to check it out because I know that nothing on the internet is really free. Almost immediately something did not feel right. To the naked eye the site looks like a legitimate networking website. Something like a baby LinkedIn where you can connect with other professional people from all over the world to generate mutually beneficial business.

However, upon a slightly closer examination I once again learned something I didn't know about the internet.
If you find yourself lured by this sort of advert on LinkedIn or elsewhere, don’t automatically trust it just because LinkedIn is believed to be a relatively trusted source. If you do, you might get yourself a reputation problem. Instead, make enquiries before filling out any forms or sending any information. There is a lot of information on the internet about so called “vanity directories”. This is Wikipedia’s take on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who's_Who_scam

Yair Cohen

Social Media Lawyer

Views: 54

Tags: IT and Internet, internet law UK

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Comment by Yair Cohen on January 31, 2014 at 23:43

My pleasure Jon. The problem of course is that it looks so genuine. Your SEO company might add you to the directory (its "free") without you even knowing about it and cause your business a massive reputation problem for years to come.  I wonder if it is your experience that people consider LinkedIn as the most reliable/respectable platform out of all the many other social media outlets. Would you be more incline to respond to an ad in the Times than to the same ad in the Daily Start?

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