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Protecting Your Online Reputation

Protecting Your Online Reputation

What is my online reputation?

With the invention of the Internet and the continual evolution of technology, many of us almost lead two lives: our lives in the ‘real world’ and our lives ‘online’ in the world of the internet, where social media and technology connects you with 3.5 billion other internet users. Your online reputation is formed from the perceptions, estimations and opinions of other people that encounter you online.

For example, if a stranger visits your social media page (e.g. Twitter profile, Facebook page, personal blog, YouTube channel etc.), they will form opinions on you based on what they find. Likewise, the comments and replies you post (and the language and tone you use) will all contribute to others forming a judgement about you, and in turn, your online reputation – including potential employers and partners. Would you want your boss, workmates, family or friends to see your digital footprint (your online profiles, photos, films, online messages & posts and your tweets)? If your answer is ‘no’, then you may be damaging your online reputation…


Your online reputation will be formed through:

• Posts and web content made by you;
• Posts and web content made by others but about you or linked to you;
• Posts and web content made by others pretending to be you.


Who does it affect?

Everyone! Even if you have never used the Internet, you may have an online reputation because someone else may have posted about you. A survey by the IT security company, AVG, found that 23% of parents have created a ‘digital footprint’ for their unborn child.


Why is online reputation management important?

The Internet never forgets: your digital footprint lasts forever. Whatever you post online stays online. It only takes someone a few seconds to copy that embarrassing ‘drunken’ photo of you, save it onto their device and then repost it to 3.5 billion Internet users. If your boss (or potential boss) spots it, then your online reputation (and career prospects) is irrevocably damaged. This explains why businesses and celebrities appear to be ‘paranoid’ about protecting their reputation, and take legal action to protect their credibility. Your online reputation should be important to you, because it is one of the tools that others could (and will) use to make decisions about you.


What can affect my online reputation?

Your online reputation can be affected by comments, photos and films you post online, as well as any online groups you are a member of (or affiliates you may have). This is why you need to think before you post, because everything you put online, stays online.

One source of danger is what other people post that is then linked (or ‘tagged’) to you. You have no control what other people do but they could have life-changing consequences for you: one drunken photo of you; or a tweet about what you said in confidence; or suggestion that you are part of a group or that you are bringing your profession into disrepute, are all examples of how others can negatively affect your online reputation.


What can I do to protect my online reputation?

Many of the strategies for managing your online reputation involve good old- fashioned common sense. However, we all make mistakes and sometimes the biggest errors you make are the ones you didn’t realise were mistakes at the time. So, what are the 10 top tips for protecting your online reputation?


  1. Stop. Think. Post: Think before you post anything.
  2. Digital footprint: What photos, films and comments are posted by you or linked to you online?
  3. Language: Think about how others may interpret your words, especially emojis and abbreviations.
  4. Audience: Who are you writing for: public or private? Friends? Friends of friends? Everyone?
  5. Appropriate: If you wouldn’t show it to your boss or family, don’t post it online!
  6. Google: Use Google (or another search provider) to search for yourself online.
  7. Passwords: Protect your passwords and don’t share or disclose them.
  8. Privacy: How does your profile look to other people?
  9. Settings: Use privacy settings on social media so you control you sees your profile. Does your physical location appear online?
  10. Review: Regularly review your online reputation.

So know you know how to safeguard your online reputation.

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