Reputation Management – Make Sure You Don’t Need it!

Imagine you’ve gone for a new job and just finished the interview, you think it went fairly well but one comment at the end still lingers in your mind.

That went very well Mr Adams I just need to check you out online now.

It was said in a jocular manner, but what did it mean?

The answer is that many employers now routinely check the internet for information on any new recruits.  Some employ specialist firms to look online and compile an extensive report on what information exists about you on the web.  Some will merely do a few searches, although it is surprising how much information you can pick up just by doing a few Google searches on full names and location plus a few more on sitesf like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook for instance.

How much information you find obviously depends on the person, but for the younger generation there is normally a huge amount of background available.

For example I was asked to supply some references for a management consultant whom I know slightly.   She seemed competent enough, however I didn’t really know her that well to recommend her – so I did some searching online.  The quantity of information on her was quite surprising – several blogs, Facebook pages, loads of Tweets, photos and opinion pieces.  One long forgotten blog detailed a sort of online diary for a few weeks obviously at a difficult time – details of money and marriage problems, depression and treatments for stress.    There were also discussions about problems at work, employment tribunals and stuff like that.  If I wanted to I could have compiled quite a comprehensive dossier on this person extremely easily.

However there is a more sinister side to online information which can seriously affect your reputation.    This is what remains of a site called IsAnyoneBack – a rather sad and cruel web site.  The site encouraged anyone to submit explicit pictures of their ex girl or boyfriend for revenge purposes.  The owner of the site would also update each picture with Twitter and Facebook details of the ‘victim’.

The owner made money from advertisers on the site and promoted it extensively.  Eventually the owner – Andrew Myers pulled the site under threats from a variety of sources including a marketing forum called Wickedfire.

However because the images were updated with lots of personal information then they ranked highly in the search engines if you searched on their names.  Just to clarify – if an individual searched for a person’s name it was very likely that an explicit picture of the victim would appear on the first page or so.  This would of course be highly embarrassing for the victim.  The story behind this horrible site is told here , you can see that the owner is going to have his own online reputation problems to solve as well, would you employ this man?

This is the danger of any electronic media, the internet supplies the  capacity for it to be distributed to millions online in seconds.   What’s more you can’t remove it once it’s been posted somewhere – the image will live on somewhere as long as the internet exists  – on a backup, web browser cache or mirror site.  Think about the story of poor Amanda Todd who was blackmailed in a similar situation.

So think twice before sending your partner that racy picture, think what might happen to it if you split up especially if it’s acrimonious.   Be careful with your identity and protect yourself at all costs.

 

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