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May 28th, 2010

Don’t Forget What the Internet Says About You

How many of us have Googled ourselves? Raise your hand.

It’s safe to assume that the vast majority of people who use the Internet with any regularity have run a search on themselves via one of the major search engines. Google’s been a verb for some time now so that’s what I do, but I’ve checked a few of them since result may vary. Sometimes the results are pretty insightful and sometimes they’re downright scary.

Hey look, I’m a “CrossFit Trainer”!

In an increasingly connected and oversharing world that has moved well beyond early adopters and to the masses, you shouldn’t just worry about what your ex is saying about you to your other friends at the bar, you may also be worried about what is said online and in front of whom, and you should be. You may find yourself looking for ways to monitor, if not manage, your reputation to the extent that you can via a variety of tools and various one-to-one conversations. If you pay attention, like a majority of “social networkers” apparently do, then you often find things you don’t like. For example, the fact that some dude in Florida with the same name as me, a Web site, and Twitter handle, is a CrossFit trainer. Is that me? No.

It’s nothing new, really. There are only so many names, but there are a number of things that can get confused. It’s increasingly becoming our responsibility as individuals to keep tabs on how we are represented online, whether we’re responsible for the content or not.

Some of the recent news around Facebook, and the subsequent privacy setting changes the company made, serve as healthy reminders of how important it is, for my generation in particular, to monitor reputation online.

And we’re not the only ones trying to figure out where the already blurred lines between what should be publicly accessibly versus not overlap, the EU is in the throws of debate right now, today.

So you’re saying I should be worried?

Well, yes and no. There’s nothing really to fear, per se, but there’s plenty to stay mindful of. There are also plenty of some small things you can do to keep tabs on what is being said about you online like setting up email alerts or simply manually searching every once in a while. I’ll leave the longer-winded explanation to the professionals.

At the end of the day, the message is: don’t undervalue how significantly what you, and others, share online can impact you offline.

About the Author
Ryan Lack serves as Supervisor on the Voce Connect team, executing on social media programs for a wide range of consumer and technology clients. You can keep updated with Ryan by following @ryanlack on Twitter.

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