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Protecting your online reputation, Part I

You create an online persona through all your online comments, including tweets, snapshots, videos, and links.

What’s at stake?

Most all of us have Googled our names at least once. But that’s not enough! It’s important to monitor your online information regularly, searching all variations of your name, to root out – or at least be able to respond to – any damaging information about you or your business. I just did a search on myself and found 8-9 pages of information, a number that has been increasing yearly. Fortunately, my ‘dossier’ is routine. I see that a few of my information files are factually, yet harmlessly, inaccurate, most likely the result of automated information gathering errors.

Your online persona is a composite

You create an online persona through all your online comments, including tweets, snapshots, videos, and links. Even if you’ve been smart enough to avoid posting questionable photos and comments, be aware that anyone can post negative, even knowingly false, information about you or your business. Above all, think before you post! Carefully avoid including anything on your social media profiles that would put you in a negative light. Consider creating two Facebook profiles – one that is for friends, the other for everyone else.

First Steps
  • If you haven’t already, by all means set up a free Google Alert:
  • Go to www.google.com/dashboard, log in with your Google ID (e.g., Gmail, Google+);
  • Under ‘Me on the Web,’ click the ‘Set up search alerts for your data’ alert;
  • Select boxes for either ‘your name,’ or ’email.’ By the way, do NOT set up a search for your social security number, because that would make it visible to potential hackers; and
  • Select how often you want to receive alerts and ‘save.’

Other free online reputation monitoring tools include:

  • reputation.com – free service that reviews blogs, online databases, and other sources;
  • TweetBeep – similar to Google Alert, but for Twitter posts;
  • MonitorThis – searches multiple search engines for specific terms which are then sent to you via RSS; and
  • Technorati – which monitors the blogosphere for your name or any search term you set up.

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Can I remove unwanted content from the Internet?

What if a quick search reveals that there is information on the net (pictures, text, etc.) you’d like deleted? Sometimes there’s an easy solution : for example, among its protective tools, FB allows you to remove photo tags posted by others. Unfortunately, there’s often nothing you can do, at least not without professional help. That said, first try the following strategy: As above, under First Steps, go to www.google.com/dashboard and log in with your Google ID (e.g., Gmail, Google+); Click ‘Remove content from another site from Google’s search results;’ and Choose the link for the type of content you want removed, and follow the instructions.

What is going on with the world of online reputation? Here are a few statistics for you:
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