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Protecting your online reputation, Part II

There are those who can and will post damaging information about you

We’re all vulnerable

Our last blog (Protecting Your Online Reputation I) provided an introduction to proactively managing your online reputation. We at OWDT highly recommended that you regularly search all variations of your name to make sure nothing has been posted that might undermine your reputation. You don’t need to participate in online media or even go online frequently to have an online dossier. Be aware that there are those who can and will post damaging information about you, sometimes with calculated intent to cause harm.

Too many fail to consider consequences

A recent international survey revealed that over 90 percent of us have done something to edit our online information, yet only 44 percent of adults report being concerned about the long-term consequences of their online activities.

Once the proverbial train has left the station, deleting damaging personal information on your own – or even with professional help – can eat up valuable resources, especially time. At worst, it can result in costly legal action with no certainty of success. On average, states allow only a year to take action against a person or entity posting damaging information about you. If you do require legal help, make sure your lawyer has a solid record of Internet experience.

Essential rules of the road

The following guidelines apply to everyone. If you have children, online impulse control can be a hard sell, but do your absolute best to persuade them to adhere to the following principles for their long-term protection:

  • Think before you post! Who are you sharing it with? Would you be comfortable if your boss, your parents, or your direct reports ran across it? How will it look to people 15 years from now? One recent estimate is that 80% of recruiters use search engines to research and screen new candidates, a figure rapidly closing in on 100%. Especially sobering: 70% of candidates have been eliminated because of damaging online information.
  • Treat people online as you wish to be treated. Consider others’ reputations and privacy when posting anything that can be linked back to them (including pictures). Discuss this issue with your friends and acquaintances. Ask them to remove anything that you do not want disclosed.
  • To maintain your personal safety, avoidd location check-ins on social sites or posting where you are going, especially if you are alone. Don’t share your address or the dates you plan to be out of town.
  • NEVER ‘flame,’ attack/bully others. Do not lie or plagiarize information. The Internet is not anonymous. Current technology allows your online comments to be traced back to your computer. Skilled hackers may be the only exception here, but their immunity is usually only temporary.
  • Don’t use your full name when posting comments on blogs where people are debating controversial issues. In such online environments, always use a nickname/pen name/pseudonym. Remember that even if your assertions are civil, others who are less temperate may decide to slander you for your differing opinion.
  • Avoid poor spelling and grammar. This is important! Thoroughly proofread your online comments and documents, especially resumes, before submitting them. In most cases, employers will not hire you if your resume, cover letter, or even online postings are poorly written. And don’t forget that friends, family, or coworkers who view your social network comments may say nothing, but will think less of you if they see consistent grammatical errors.

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