How to Manage Your Online Reputation

Online reputation management is a lucrative business that many people are trying to get into. Any person with an online presence has the potential for damage, whether it be from a mistake on their part or because of someone else’s actions. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to manage your reputation, so you don’t end up getting all burned.

“How to improve online reputation” is a question that many people have asked. There are several ways in which you can manage your online reputation, and this article will list them for you. Read more in detail here: how to improve online reputation.

Young man in car leaving home for college illustration.

This essay series is now available as a professionally designed, distraction-free paperback or ebook that you can read at your leisure while offline.

All of the essential life skills we’ve discussed thus far in this series were ones your father, and even your grandfather, had to master when he first left home.

Today’s young guy, on the other hand, has a new difficulty that Pops never had to deal with: controlling his internet reputation.

Despite the fact that this talent is still in its infancy, I feel it is one of the most significant topics we’ll cover in this course. Your online reputation is your reputation as the barrier between the real and online worlds becomes more blurred. You better believe they’ve already Googled you, formed a first, first impression about you, your interests, and what kind of person you are before you meet your freshman roommate, before you pick up a date, before you shake the hand of a potential employer…you better believe they’ve already Googled you, formed a first, first impression about you, your interests, and what kind of person you are before you meet your freshman roommate, before you pick up a date, before you shake the hand of a As a result, if you’re not attentive and aware of the information you publish online, you risk shooting yourself in the foot in every aspect of your life.

You’re going out on your own… And then There Was a Fishbowl

After high school, leaving for college or another form of adventure has always been an exhilarating and nerve-wracking moment. It’s a time when you’re experimenting with new ideas and ideals, putting new freedoms to the test, meeting new people, and often changing your mind about who you are and what you want out of life. You may feel one way one week and another the next. During this time, you will undoubtedly make blunders and do things that will leave you wondering, “What was I thinking?” twenty years later.

Only you and a handful of your closest friends would have remembered those wacky and occasionally cringe-worthy experiences a decade ago. The sole evidence of their existence may be discovered in a secret picture album or diary.

It’s a completely different ballgame nowadays.

Everything you do and say now has the potential to become a permanent and public record. Everyone has a smartphone and can take a photo of themselves anywhere, at any time, and put it online. And anything that are posted online about you or from you may be there indefinitely. You might be haunted for the rest of your life by mistakes you committed when you were 19 years old. Being a young guy used to imply that you could completely reinvent yourself by moving to a new location and making new acquaintances, but nowadays, your internet reputation follows you everywhere you go.

I don’t intend to seem pessimistic about it. But that is the grim truth of living in the Internet Age, and burying one’s head in the sand and trying to ignore it won’t help. It doesn’t mean college can’t still be the joyful, spontaneous experience it has always been; it simply means you have to be more aware of what portions of your experience come out online and in the public view.


Why Is It So Important to Manage Your Online Reputation Proactively?

One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that it is a massive pot from which individuals can both contribute to and take. This puts the world’s greatest store of information at our fingertips, as well as an unending supply of inspiration that can be added to and “remixed.”

The disadvantage of the large internet pot is that once you put anything in it, you lose almost all control over it. Many embarrassing stories that have gone viral began as something that someone wished to share with a few close friends. However, those friends sent it on to their friends, who passed it on to their friends, and so on, until it wound up on Tosh.O.

When it comes to what you post online, there are almost no guarantees. You may delete your Facebook status, blog post, remark, tweet, or video, but it’s possible that someone else has already shared, copied, screenshotted, or downloaded the video and published it somewhere. Sites like the WayBack Machine record and preserve how websites appeared at a certain point in time (have a look at AoM around 2008!). Emails that you believed you’d deleted for good may sometimes be recovered, and just because you deleted an email doesn’t mean it wasn’t archived by the recipient. If someone else wants to publish anything of yours, you may not be able to force them to remove it without resorting to legal action.

To put it another way, very much every piece of digital material you produce has the potential to persist in perpetuity. And any of the 250 million internet users in the United States, not to mention the 2 billion worldwide, may access this digital record.

What’s on that tape has the potential to have a significant influence on your personal and professional life.

When reviewing your application, your college’s admissions office may have Googled you. Your freshman roommate Googled you as soon as he found out you’d be bunking with him. When you meet someone at a party and tell them about your brilliant idea, they will later Google you. And 81 percent of singles say they Google or look up a person’s Facebook profile before going on a date with them.

Despite the fact that only 7% of Americans believe their online reputation influences hiring decisions, 75% of US companies have made online screening a formal part of the hiring process, 85 percent of recruiters and HR professionals say having a positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions, and 70% of recruiters say they have rejected candidates based on something they found online. And, considering those figures originate from a 2009 research, they’re very certainly higher today.

What types of internet findings force recruiters and HR professionals to throw your CV away? The following is a list of the most frequent red flags that employers check for:


Table about online reputation information employers.

As you can see, employers are interested in more than just the material you make; they’re also interested in what your friends and colleagues share. You should be cautious about who you associate with.

“Well, if a firm is going to reject me for uploading images of my drunken celebration, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyhow,” some young people could argue. But that’s a bit of a blunder. I’d dare to argue that these organizations aren’t rejecting people because they like to drink or swear, but because their propensity to flaunt these habits in public demonstrates a lack of judgment and intelligence. This isn’t a ridiculous assumption.

The information that prospective employers and new acquaintances may obtain about you on the internet may not be accurate. Some will attempt to verify it, while others will not. And what people see frequently comes with no context – maybe you were being humorous, maybe it’s an inside joke, but they won’t know because they’ll just make snap decisions based on what they see. This is why, when it comes to controlling your online reputation, you must be proactive as well as defensive, eliminating anything wrong, carefully selecting the digital information you make, and generating good stuff about yourself on purpose.

Before you self-reveal, take a moment to reflect about yourself.

“Young people, in particular, are prone to self-disclosure before self-reflection. For teenage indiscretion, there is no erasing button now.” –James Steyer is a venture capitalist and philanthropist.

We’ll go through some practical methods for managing your internet reputation in a minute. However, adopting a mentality for how you want to handle your online life is the first step in accepting responsibility for your online presence.

Matt Ivester, author of lol..OMG! (despite the goofy title, this is an excellent book with solid advice from the person who learnt about online reputation management firsthand through his mishaps in starting, offers three things to ask yourself before putting anything online:

1. What is your motivation for doing this?

Why? This is the most crucial issue of all, yet it is one that is often unasked and unconsidered.

Today’s universities are welcome the first generation of “digital natives,” people who have never known a period when the internet wasn’t a major part of their lives. Even for those who remember using encyclopedias for elementary school research papers, connecting and engaging online has become so commonplace that it’s difficult to envision living any other way. This is how things are, and we do what everyone else does, to the point that we seldom question why we do what we do. The answers are surprisingly difficult to come up with and describe once we start questioning why.

Why do you change your Facebook status or share a link? Do you wish to share some information? Are you tired of being bored? Do you want to be seen as intelligent? Are you attempting to make someone else envious of you? Do you want to check whether others share your feelings? Why?


What difference does it make how many likes or upvotes something receives on Facebook or Reddit? Is this proof that you provided anything worthwhile? Why?

Why do you respond to blog postings with comments? Do you want the blog’s author to know how much you enjoyed the article? Do you believe you have any insights to share that might benefit another reader? Do you want to discover how and why the author is wrong? Why? What do you want to achieve? Do you believe it will persuade them to alter their minds? Is it because you need to release the psychological tension you experience when you believe someone is wrong? Why?

What motivates you to join in online discussion boards? Is it conducive to a sense of community? Do you like hearing other people’s viewpoints? When you believe their views are incorrect, how do you respond? Why should you worry what a complete stranger thinks of you? Why?

You may come up with a good and valuable justification for generating any kind of online material, from a status update to a YouTube movie, if you think about it. Alternatively, you may discover that your motive is difficult to understand and conclude that it is not worth your attention. In any case, by asking why, you’ll become what Ivester refers to as a “conscious content producer.”

2. Is this the correct moment to do it?

The internet creates a perfect storm for impulse control: while it actively encourages impulsive communication and makes satisfying those impulses incredibly easy, it also makes undoing the results of those impulses extremely difficult; it’s simple to hit “send” or “submit,” but it’s much more difficult to undo the results of those impulses.

“What’s on your mind?” Facebook asks. Twitter, on the other hand, wants to know “What’s going on?” They exist because people want to share their ideas, movies, and photos, and they need to be fed regularly in order to thrive, expand, and generate money. And blogs, like ours, strive to engage readers and create a sense of community, so they ask for feedback. The internet is built up to encourage you to share whatever thoughts come to mind, and it just takes a few clicks to get that notion from your head to the walls and screens of the digital world.

But just because you have the ability to express your ideas on the spur of the moment doesn’t mean you should. Not just because you probably haven’t considered why you want to share in the first place, but also because powerful impulses are frequently the result of intense emotions such as rage, despair, and sorrow, or chemically altered states (like being drunk). When you spew out and discuss personal sentiments when upset or drunk, you’ll probably come to regret it after the intense emotions pass or you sober up.

When you have a want to post anything on the internet that you may regret later, the best thing to do is to wait on it. The internet gives you a false sense of immediacy, making you feel obligated to reply right away. However, you’ll discover that anything that seemed quite urgent and necessary to express at the time will appear completely irrelevant when you wake up the following morning.


To stop myself from acting rashly, I envision myself living in a world without the internet. If I have a great desire to tell an article’s author what a jerk he is, I remember reading a magazine in the 1980s and having no way of expressing my opinion about it other than sending a letter to the editor or talking to my wife or close friends about it. If anything irritates me and I want to vent on Facebook, I remember a time before Facebook when I would have been forced to keep my tirade to myself. It reminds me that discussing whatever comes to mind wasn’t required back then, and it’s not necessary today. While the fine-folks of the 1980s made some dubious wardrobe choices, they were no less thrilled than we are today that we can scream what we’re feeling and thinking to everyone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

3. How debatable do you want to be?

Younger generations (including those my age) have been inundated with messages about how wonderful and unique they are, how vital it is to be “genuine,” and how beneficial it is to be “transparent.” Because “I’m just trying to be myself!” this might prompt people to throw caution to the wind when it comes to what they disclose online. And if others don’t like it, they’re free to bite me!”

However, just because you may now share your thoughts and personalities with a larger audience than ever before doesn’t mean you should, or that the more you share, the more genuine you are. People used to be able to communicate their eccentricities with a small circle of family and friends, and they were no less themselves than we are (in fact, they were probably more themselves since they didn’t receive quick feedback on all of their peculiarities).

Examining the notion of authenticity is beyond the scope of this piece (though it will be the subject of a future series), but suffice it to say that for many of the great men of the past, the ideal was sprezzatura – progressively unveiling themselves to others as a trusting connection evolved. You may want to “be yourself” by proclaiming your religious, social, and political beliefs on social media at every opportunity, but if the only thing new acquaintances know about you is the memes you keep posting on Facebook, they may decide they don’t want to get to know you before they even do — they’ll miss the complexity of your character that would have emerged over time… that you’re a leftist and a gun enthusiast, or a devout Christian and a scientist, or a committed vegetarian and a Marine.

The three questions above may go a long way toward assisting you in making informed decisions about what to publish and what not to post online. Another thing to think about is what the general public would think of your material if it went viral or if you were suddenly propelled into national notoriety. Would that put your family in a bad light? What would a stranger’s perception be of it? It may be amusing to you and your pals, but would it be insulting to others? You never know who will view your post, what will be discovered about you later, or who will be looking at your phone.


How to Take Control of Your Online Image

Managing your internet reputation entails both removing and generating stuff that you want to be seen. Follow the actions outlined below, which Ivester and others have recommended, and do each step as soon as you finish reading it. It’s easy to put off something like this forever. Do it right now.

1. Perform a Google search on yourself.

You need to know what’s currently out there before you can decide what steps to take to control your internet image. To do so, turn off Google’s personalized search — when you make a Google search, the results Google returns are based on factors such as your location, previous clicks, and items your friends enjoy. However, you’d want to see what would show up if someone else did a search for you. Here’s how to disable the personalized search option.

If your name is “Rob Smith,” look for it with a qualifier like “Rob Smith St. Louis” or “Rob Smith Tulane University” if you have a common name.

Check out other search engines like Bing and Yahoo once you’ve looked at Google’s results.

Try to picture what assumptions someone may draw about you if they had no other context for the material and knew nothing else about you while looking at the results for your name.

2. Remove any information that you no longer wish to appear in search results.

After you’ve done a search for yourself, attempt to remove any items that have shown up that you’d prefer not have on your computer. Perhaps you used your actual name when you joined an online forum. Perhaps you commented on a blog article using your actual name. Perhaps you posted a review or a blog piece that you now consider to be overly divisive. You can remove some of these items on your own.

If you are unable to delete anything on your own, such as a blog post remark on another person’s blog, consider contacting the site’s owner to see if they would do it for you. They may or might not, but the nicer you are about it, the more likely they are to aid you, so be respectful and thankful in your request.

If you can’t discover the site owner’s contact information, visit the WHOis website. The contact information for the individual who registered the domain must be made public by website registrars. When you search up a site on WHOis, you’ll often discover that the owner has chosen to hide their direct contact information and instead provided a proxy email address. In any case, your email will be sent to the same location.

Even if you’re successful in deleting the objectionable information from a website, it may take a few days, if not weeks, for the change to appear in search engine results. Also, keep in mind that the problematic item has not “disappeared.” It’s possible that it was preserved by the WayBack Machine. Keep in mind that everything you post on the internet will be there in perpetuity.


When it comes to using your true identity online in the future, be exceedingly cautious.

3. Make a favorable first impression online by being proactive.

Your best hope for maintaining your internet reputation is to create good information about yourself in advance, which will drive the negative content off the first few pages of search results. Create accounts on popular social networking sites that rank well on Google and other search engines. When you Google someone’s name, their Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ pages are often on the top page. Create accounts with them and share content that you’d be happy to be connected with.

Starting a blog and updating it on a regular basis is the greatest way to guarantee that positive information related with your name appears at the top of search results. If possible, attempt to get a domain name for your blog that includes your given name. What topics should you cover on your blog? If you’re a freelancer, you may submit your résumé (redacting phone numbers and addresses, of course), write pieces providing insights into an area of expertise, or use it to build a portfolio of your work. Make sure it’s something you want linked with your name, whatever it is.

Cross-connect your blog with all of your social media profiles: include links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts on your blog, a link to your LinkedIn profile and blog on your Facebook page, and so on.

Even if you don’t intend to use Twitter or Google+, or even post anything on your blog, having your name registered with those accounts and domains is a good idea. You don’t want some Joe Schmo sullying your reputation with a series of wacky internet behaviors.

4. Clean out your Facebook profile and adjust your privacy settings.

Make the following changes to guarantee that prospective employers or love partners only see the best of you when they search you up on Facebook:

Vintage how profile page looks to the public.

First, take a look at how your public profile page seems. Make a mental note of any visible information that you don’t want outsiders to view.

Vintage Brett McKay profile page.

Click “About” to edit what’s shown on your profile page.

Vintage facebook page illustration.

On the following page, choose “Edit.” If you don’t want anybody who isn’t a Facebook friend to view a certain piece of information, choose “Friends” on each section. I’ve made my career and school information publicly available for networking purposes.

Vintage facebook page control default and privacy.

Adjust all of your privacy settings on the Facebook Privacy Settings page so that only your friends can view your images and status updates.

Vintage facebook page about timeline and tagging illustration.

Under “Timeline and Tagging,” adjust what your friends may share about you on the privacy settings page. Allow you to examine and approve posts or photographs in which you are tagged before they appear on your Timeline. When your friends post photographs that look like you, you may also turn off Facebook’s tag suggestion. You don’t want your name to be associated with a picture or post that isn’t favorable to you.


Vintage facebook page limit the audience for past posts.

Limit who can read old posts while you’re on the privacy settings page. Even if you used to publish everything openly, this will make those postings private retrospectively.

Vintage facebook page review the photos.

Examine the photographs in which you’ve been tagged and untag yourself from those that aren’t favorable. While you’re at it, ask your buddy to take down the picture if it’s something you don’t want to be public. Even if you aren’t labeled in the photo, it may come back to bite you.

Vintage facebook page leave groups and unlike pages.

Leave organizations and dislike sites that may be considered controversial…or just plain stupid. At the very least, make them private so that only your Facebook friends can view the sites you enjoy. how.

5. Be more mindful of what you post on Facebook and with whom you share it.

Before you share anything on Facebook, think about the three questions we discussed before. That will save you a lot of time and aggravation.

Consider if what you’re going to post is suitable and relevant to ALL of your Facebook friends. You don’t have to tell your previous employer or lecturers about your weekend plans. In real life, you alter your conversation according on your employer; do the same on Facebook. Make Facebook lists for close family/friends, acquaintances, professional colleagues, persons of the same faith as you, people with whom you love discussing politics, and so on. Before you publish anything, consider if it is something that all of your friends would be interested in, or whether it is more suited to a select group of your friends. Even if you’re simply posting for a small group of pals, consider what others may think if that status or picture was shared with others who weren’t on the list. It’s possible.

6. For each of your accounts, create a strong password.

I don’t know what will push you to tighten your online security if the recent incident of tech journalist Mat Honan’s online existence being entirely destroyed by hackers doesn’t. For all of your accounts, create strong passwords and update them every six months. A strong password is at least 8 characters long and contains both upper and lower case letters, as well as one special character (&!#). Your passwords for all of your accounts should not be the same. Use an app like LastPass to keep track of all your passwords.

Enable two-factor authentication to lower the risk of being hacked. On Google (if you use Gmail) and Facebook, here’s how to accomplish it.

7. Protect your laptop and mobile devices with passwords. 

Friends or random strangers might tamper with your online life if you leave your laptop or mobile device unsecured. I know numerous folks who had to scramble to recover from an insulting tweet made by a naughty buddy from an unattended iPhone. That is something you should avoid. Protect all of your mobile devices with a password.

8. Create a Google Alert with your name as the subject. 

Set up a Google Alert for your name to keep an eye on what’s being said about you on the internet. Simply enter your name as a search query, and Google Alert will send you a weekly (or daily, if you like) summary of any new articles containing your name.



The internet is a fantastic educational, social, and networking tool if used properly. It may be just as harmful to your personal and professional life if you use it in moderation. Be a “conscious content producer” who uses good judgment and discernment to determine where the boundary between your public and private lives should be drawn.

Do you have any further suggestions for controlling your internet reputation? Share them with us in the comments (but only after you’ve asked yourself why you’re commenting and double-checked that it’s the correct time)!




The “according to ibrahim, control your web presence by being a _________ person online. quizlet” is a blog post that discusses how you can manage your online reputation.

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