Your reputation is everything. Guard it with your life. This is especially true if you are on social media – and most people are (unless they are living under a rock or in a cave with no wifi signal).
During the “olden days” of analog and landlines, there was very little documentation of what we said and what we did. Sure, we posed for photos and had candid shots now and then. But that can quickly be forgotten. Now, thanks to social media (and our lax privacy settings), everything we ever say or do has been documented for everyone to see.
Our political rants on Facebook, our misspelled texts, unflattering photos of double chins and drunken nights out have been shared online one way or another. It is very difficult to control what has been shared since everything is now archived and forever saved away in a server somewhere for posterity’s sake.
So without further ado, here are a few tips on how to safeguard your online reputation.
- Start by searching for yourself on search engines. Don’t just use Google, but that is definitely a great place to start. Use all search engines possible. Google does not have the monopoly over search engines (at least not yet), so try searching for your name under all the different search engines out there. Here’s a list of all the search engines to try: Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, AOL, Ask.com, Excite, Yandex, or Lycos. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but they are good places to check.
- When searching for your name, use any and all iterations of your name – full name, nickname, screen names, pen names, misspellings of your name, etc. For all you know, you might be sharing a name with a convicted drug dealer. Be thorough. After that, you can then add a few keywords like hometown, schools, jobs, etc.
- Once you’ve found a few (hopefully just a few) links, posts, or photos that you wish to forget, set them to private. Check your privacy settings and adjust them so that no one can access your embarrassing moments. Or better yet, try to remove them or get them removed from the site on which you found them.
- It is always a good idea to revisit your privacy settings once in awhile. After all, social media platforms are notorious for changing their privacy policies as often as the weather changes. While YOU may be very careful of what you post and what you share, others may not share the same self-censorship as you. Friends may tag you in a photo from your wild college days dancing awkwardly at a party or even getting tipsy on one too many tequila shots. Though these may seem like light years away now, they can still pop up from time to time to haunt you (hello, Facebook memories!). I’m sure these are things that you would rather not have your employer see.
Remember always to keep private things private. Some things are better left to be written in diaries, kept in your phone gallery, or committed to memory. You don’t always have to share every single thought running through your head. Be careful about what goes out online. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Written by Jaie O.- The Help