The increased use of video as a publishing tool has reputation implications for individuals and businesses alike. The lurking danger is the speed with which videos can go viral and the damage they can do en route, potentially breaching privacy, copyright and data protection rights and causing severe distress and embarrassment.

The beauty of video is that it can be easily viewed on smartphones and tablets and digested by those who have neither the time nor the inclination to turn to written content. It therefore comes as no surprise that BuzzFeed has announced plans to invest significantly in video in order to capitalise on an insatiable online appetite for visual content as a means by which to publish its news and general interest pieces.

And yet, trying to remove or permanently block access to a video which has gone viral can be likened to a game of Whack-A-Mole. To succeed, you need to know what to do and you need to be quick, thorough and effective when doing it.

If a video posted online is unlawful, a complaint has to be lodged with the website in question. They will consider whether the complaint falls within the scope of their terms of use and decide whether to block access to the video. Whilst you await their response, the video continues to do the rounds. Waiting for the website to make its decision is painful enough; imagine trying to contain the damage to reputation when faced with four pages of Google Search results, all pointing to mainstream websites with substantial readership figures, each hosting the video you want removed.

As this example shows, trying to defend your reputation when a damaging video has gone viral is going to be an uphill task. Whilst there is vocal support for more effective powers to be developed to prevent gross intrusion and damage to reputation caused by information published on the internet, this will come as little solace to those dealing with reputational fallout stemming from a damaging video gone viral. With the adage “prevention is better than cure” ringing true, pre-emptively researching and grading threats to your online profile is the best form of defence when it comes to safeguarding reputation from the viral video menace.