High profile cases of cyber bullying of veterinarians, including at least one that allegedly led to suicide, are fueling moves on the part of the AVMA to offer members tools and resources to combat bullying and manage their online reputation(http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/avma-launches-cyberbullying-resource-veterinarians). Partnering with Bernstein Crisis Management Inc. (BCM), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is providing both a cyber bullying hotline and a reputation management service to participants of their Member Advantage Program.
The 24/7 DVM Cyber bullying Hotline offers 30 minutes of free consultation for AVMA members experiencing cyber bullying and in need of immediate assistance. A discounted rate is offered for further consultation. The DVM Reputation Guard is available through the AVMA’s. The Reputation Guard is subscription based and compiles and analyzes data from various online sources. Members are made aware of possibly harmful content and provided expert assistance in creating a response.
The move is in response to constituents urging the AVMA House of Delegates to prioritize providing resources for reputation management. Fake reviews and cyber bullying can impact the health of a business, but it can go further than that, affecting the mental health and well-being of the veterinarian and their staff. In 2014, a New York City veterinarian took her own life after a dispute with a customer that spilled over onto the internet(http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/avma-launches-cyberbullying-resource-veterinarians). Shirley Koshi, DVM, was bullied and protested on sites like Facebook.com and vetabusenetwork.com among others.
According to the AVMA’s Cyberbullying – and How to Handle It(https://www.avma.org/PracticeManagement/Administration/reputation/Pages/cyberbullying.aspx) webpage, Approximately 1 in 5 veterinarians surveyed by the AVMA in Fall 2014 reported that they had themselves been victims or knew colleagues who had been victims of cyber bullying.” The AVMA hopes that offering this service will allow veterinarians to better manage their practice and lessen the damage that can result from spiteful or vindictive internet activity.