The article goes on to discuss the results of a survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project regarding reputation management and social media. One conclusion that was drawn was that 18-29 year olds were the least likely group to trust social networking sites.

On one hand, I understand the need to manage one’s own reputation online. People must protect themselves from people that feel the need to discriminate or gossip, have loose lips or become judgemental about things that don’t concern them.

On the other, I find it disappointing that people have to resort to censoring themselves and monitor everything they do, just to ‘fit in’, wherever it might be. It sounds a lot like high school, but I think it’s actually the other way around: high school is a lot like life.

At the end of the day, I do believe that if pictures, blogs or personal information are freely accessible on the Internet, it’s fair game for any one to view it.

That is why people must protect themselves.

This is what I suggest:

  1. Google yourself to see what content “your name” is associated with.
  2. Continually monitor your name by creating ‘Google Alerts’ that are sent via email or RSS
  3. Create an extra account on Facebook for professional (work) use only, separating if from your personal life.
  4. Get your name as a domain name. If you have a common name, you may be mixed up with someone else. Get it before someone else does.
  5. Check your friend’s social networking photo albums to see if they have any photos of you that could be considered ‘inappropriate’ (your friends may not have strict privacy settings)
  6. Review your privacy settings on all social networking sites and lock them down if necessary. Remember to test it out to see what it looks like.
  7. Think about what you want to say before posting it as a comment on social networking sites, discussion forums or news articles. Could your comments be used against you in the future?

I enjoyed this quote from the article…

Stefanie Juell, a 28-year-old in Westchester County, N.Y., has become increasingly aware of this. So she recently opened an extra Facebook account after her supervisor and people she’d met through work started to friend her on her personal account.

“You don’t exactly want to reject your supervisor,” she says. “Nor do you want him or her to see everything that your friends write on your wall or the pictures that people tag of you.”

As a site note, Googling yourself use to be referred to as ‘ego surfing’. CNN also reported about the same Pew Internet report but it wasn’t as extensive as the Toronto Star article that I posted.