This morning while sifting through my inbox, I read a piece by Nick Bilton about the rise in businesses that specialize in online reputation management. These businesses have been around for a few years now, and I wasn’t expecting much new information. There was, however, a new spin on it that makes me think.
In the discussion about how to maintain a good online reputation, the CEO of reputation.com said that it is not just what you put online yourself. Someone may take your photo, upload it and tag it with your name. There you are, and it lives on the web forever. This is a little scary.
When my kids were teenagers and just beginning to drive, they would often chafe at the restrictions placed on them by angrily asking why I didn’t trust them. Parents everywhere have used this response, “It’s not you I am worried about. It is all the other nutty drivers out there!” It seems that we now need to worry about online reputation in much the same way.
Perusing my twitter stream a little while later, I ran across a tweet from @SteveMartinToGo, about an embarrassing piece in another online piece. It alleges that he, Steve Martin, jumped up on a table to sing to Sir Elton John. However, according to his tweet, he was not even there! “Lorne, trusting wife and I agree, where were we when this happened? http://tiny.cc/9runy Could it be they MADE THIS UP? Nah.” Later he tweets that this must be the only embarrassing event in the last 10 years that has not been filmed and placed on Youtube!
Steve Martin is monitoring his online reputation, but he is an actor, comedian, writer, and generally famous guy. What could possibly be out there about me that is untrue? I Googled myself for science. On a site I won’t name, my age is listed as 70. Hm. Not exactly a malicious lie, and my sons will tell you I am as old as dirt, but 70? Untrue.
Monitoring online reputation was also equated with monitoring your credit report. If you have had the misfortune of having a mistake on your credit report, you know the hassles involved in getting it fixed. It is especially maddening when the mistake is not the result of anything you have done. It is difficult and time consuming, and you can get the feeling that the people that can fix it, don’t really care to make it right. How much more of a challenge to repair an online reputation slammed by someone with too much time on their hands.
I have focused on personal online reputation management so far, but all this and more applies to businesses reputations online. Look for more reputation ramblings in a future post.
Have you Googled your name lately? What have you found that surprised you?
Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1132146