What does your online image say about you?
This is a follow up to my post on Social Networks, I posted in response to the Daily Prompt on Monday. This is something that makes the news every so often, yet has been covered in media for several years. You have all seen where a celebrity posts something inflammatory or revealing on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook, only to remove it after it has been publicised. Some of these are done because of the ability to create interest, and get free publicity, others are from a person not thinking about what they are saying or writing.
Before the internet made it so easy for us to share our views, comments and lives, it was mainly celebrities who had to worry about this type of full disclosure. I will choose Mel Gibson as an example, as he has made controversial statements have several times. In December 1991 he made comments about gays during an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, which caused GLAAD to accuse him of homophobia. He defended and refused to apologize, however several years later he co-hosted an on set seminar for 10 gay and lesbian film makers, during the filming of Conspiracy Theory. In 2004 Mel was accused of anti-Semitism for the views portrayed in The Passion of the Christ. For a more detailed look at the issue heres the link to Wikipedia.org’s article. There have also been allegations of domestic abuse and racism directed at Mel Gibson. I am not picking on Mel, nor do I agree with his statements, rather using these issues to show how long after the event these incidents can still be found online.
Back in July 2008, Computerworld had an article on making sure your online reputation was working for you not against you, in relation to employment. “Your ongoing “PR campaign” should also address your overall Web presence. Blogs, personal Web sites, legal documents, message board posts and newsgroup comments all may contain information that hiring managers can see.” was the part from the article that made me realize, it was time to evaluate, evolve, and excel. For the full article: Take control of your online image There are reports of companies requesting access to your profiles on such sites as Facebook. Over 90% of human resource professionals have researched a potential hire online, and over 50% have dropped someone from consideration, based on what they found there. Your blog rant about your boss, the company you are working for, that picture that should be x-rated and such things as comments posted on newspaper sites will define your reputation.
So your probably thinking, what can I do, other than staying offline, which for most of us won’t happen soon or willingly. First of all, knowing your online image is out there, then taking steps to control what the image says about you. Here are 4 tips to get you started.
1. Use search engines to search for your name, and do a separate search for images. Your last visit to that vacation getaway, or bar might be out there with you tagged in an image. The days of having to visit you to see all your embarrassing pictures in a photo album, or watch homemade video’s of your air guitar performance have ben replaced by sites such as YouTube, Pinterest, Snapfish, for a more comprehensive list check out List of Photo sharing sites. After all that picture of you doing body shots on the waitress of that tropical island might cost you a possible job, or your relationship. There is an old saying that has become an ad campaign; What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This most definitely should be your rule, when posting online.
2. Do you have a common usage of a name across your sites, for example “Jim the left handed plumber”. Then make sure you have registered with as many sites as you can, even if you don’t use all of them. It helps to control what is found using your name, or company name. You may have read about many celebrities’ suing cyber squatters to gain control of their domain names. It can be done, but it is expensive. So before you become the next Great American Writer, or the next greatest chef from Bangkok, register your domain name, and claim it on as many free social sites as possible. After all a blank profile is better than someone else posting, and having it thought to be your thoughts.
3. Regularly check your self with the search engines, and use alert features such as Google alerts, Banks, credit card companies, credit reporting agencies, and companies such as LifeLock offer these types of reports, but you can do most of it on your own. search for “free online identity protection” for more ways to do this, and read articles such as this one from PCWorld.
4. Facebook, Google, and many others have different privacy settings in different countries. However more important, is that on all the sites you use, check your privacy settings, it allows you to control what others see. When using file sharing sites, such as Dropbox, Box.com, iCloud, Skydrive and many others make sure you are sending to those you intend the pictures or comments for. Keep in mind that just because you delete an item, doesn’t mean it is gone from the internet, if it has been shared with others, it may have been re-shared with yet others. For today’s news about how sites are becoming interconnected, check out TechCruch’s post on Twitter becoming a gateway for all your mobile apps. this is a great reminder of how quickly information can spread.
I haven’t really touched on how to craft the image you want, rather concentrated on protecting you from your own mistakes. Yes technology changes, however the basics of keeping a good reputation are still the same as your mother probably taught you, just more ways to think about.