At any given time, someone, somewhere, is probably googling you. This could be a former classmate, a neighbor, someone you’re trying to do business with, a relative, who knows?
Are you confident that whatever they find will be information that’s truly representative of you? Maybe if you have a really common name, it may be lost in cyber muddle, but the more unusual your name is (or how the first name is spelled), the easier it will be to find you. If you want a clean online presence, there are things you can do.
- Search yourself on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Google yourself and see what comes up within the first two pages of results. Make sure you’re logged out of Google or other browser you’re searching on. The results can be different vs being logged in.
- Log back in and search your name again to see how the results look.
But how do you get rid of negative information and make yourself look better?
If you’re the creator of negative information, it’s a cinch. Just go into your Facebook account or wherever the unflattering information is, and delete it. Also adjust the settings for privacy, such as limiting post or image visibility to select visitors.
- Search engines. Ask the search engine to remove the page result. For Google go here. For Bing go here.
- Google+. Hide what you don’t want others to see. Check out the privacy settings.
- LinkedIn. Make sure your profile is updated.
- Twitter. Make the account private to prevent retweets. If you’re new to Twitter, think very carefully before you tweet, as tweets really do get around.
- In addition to these tactics, try online reputation management firms. They aren’t cheap, but they work, mostly.
- Go through all of your account profiles and upgrade them. Make them crisp, clear and free of fluff or anything that doesn’t flatter you. Add information that makes you more impressive. And use a good photo for your profile or avatar. Really, some Facebook profile pictures are ridiculous and unflattering, some not even making any sense.
- Replace racy or otherwise negative images of you with more respectable ones. Or just delete them, period, like endless selfies that shout, “Ooh, look at me in this one!”
- Be very careful what photos you put up on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re soliciting for donations, don’t have a photo of you eating lobster.
- Sign up with a nameplate site like about.me, seelio or flavors.me where you can say good things about yourself and list your skills.
- Get your own domain, even if you think your name is taken (use a variation), then use a reliable hosting company and put up your work.
- Link all of these accounts so that visitors to one will be driven to the others.
- Sign up with services to show your skills such as YouTube and Vimeo. See what’s out there for your various talents (e.g., Flickr for photographers).
- Follow the cardinal rule: Don’t put anything in cyberspace that you wouldn’t want to reveal to 50,000 people at the coliseum.
- Oh, drinking and posting don’t mix. Just don’t. Stop it. Really.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.