Search engines – they are an ever-present force in our lives (and a great tool at that!), as are the results they provide us with when we use them.
Type in a keyword, perhaps your name, and things that were posted by you and about you both years ago and yesterday will inevitably come up.
Data, once put in an online setting, never really actually disappears, even if you think it might have.
Here are some examples of content which, posted now or in your past, will likely be available in search results in your future, whether you like it or not.
Have some feedback to provide someone with in a forum? Make sure you keep it clean and productive, particularly if you use your name as a username, or if your name is referenced in the forum. Whatever you say in a forum will be available in search results for a very, very long time.
We tend to be a bit impulsive when it comes to reacting in a forum setting about something important to us. It feels as though we are in an intimate and even private conversation with people–well, that is unlikely. Try to control that impulse as what you say now can impact you negatively later in life by appearing in search results.
Maybe the photos aren’t even that incriminating, but if you don’t have the right privacy settings in place on a site like Facebook, or if a friend has copied a photo and posted it to a forum or to their own non-private website, photographs of you in compromising positions could be available to potential employers, investors, and employees, and that is just not something you ever want to have to explain.
Google’s image search is quite thorough. So agree with your friends not to tag one another on any site unless you discuss the photo prior. It’s in everyone’s best interests.
Articles you write.
Say, for example, you are writing an editorial for an online publication–consider very carefully how you word your article. Everything about your grammar, tone, and actual content can and will potentially be scrutinized by people doing a search on your name. Most jobs require some amount of writing. This article could be seen as a writing sample but also as a character example. So keep it smart and clean.
The devil is in the details when you post online–be careful, as many people can and will see those details!
Photo Credit: lisadragon
Even though you didn’t participate in a lawsuit online, information about lawsuits is very often made public (on the internet). Thus, if you were ever involved in a business-related or personal lawsuit, this will likely show up in online annals, and could come up in search results when someone searches your name. Again, future employers might judge you before even meeting you and considering an interview. Future dates might do the same.
The bottom line is this–THINK before you post anything online. Consider that future loves, in-laws, employers, investors, and people reporting in to you have access to most of the things you have posted online over the years. So don’t just think in the moment. Think about who could read it in years to come when posting anything online.
Remember–what you say and do online can and will be held against you. By someone.
Consider leveraging tools and services by businesses that provide online reputation protection and can help you to protect your reputation online by applying a couple of different strategies.
The first is to help you proactively monitor search results for information about you so that you are always aware of exact what is out there.
A second strategy is in helping you manage those results. Suppression of negative search results is one solution a service like this can assist with. Luckily, most people don’t tend to look past page one of search results, so these types of services can help you build strategies to push those negative results beyond that first page.
Try to keep an angelic disposition online–it will serve you well in the future!
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