Friday, July 30, 2010

Reputation Management Online - Tweets Gone Wild

I just read Michael Gray's article Interview with Steve Wyer. It was a good piece and it got me to thinking (a dangerous thing perhaps).

So, I decide to google my moniker just to see what Google had found about me. What I found was a little shocking. Apparently, a bunch of twitter "apps" have scraped, not only my content, but my entire profile and "created a profile" for me on their sites. Amplicate, and frax or something - there were many more as well.

Not to sound preachy but: You should be managing your online reputation. Many of you are not protecting your identities and with so much data out there and findable (thanks Google), you should be frightened.

My boyfriend was a bit disturbed last night when I illustrated just how easy it was to find information out. I have a possible job opportunity that emailed me to see if I was interested in the job. Of course, the email indicated the person's real name and I also know the company name. So, I started to track down the interviewer through LinkedIn which showed me (even without logging in) a history of companies and some websites that the person had started in this person's past. This was just a starting point. I learned even more about my potential interviewer - not just the professional stuff. It would seem we are creatures of habit.

I found a Twitter account, but the image was one with the person's pets. So, I saw that the person only tweeted a few times. Leaning this person away from "happening" media. But, this could be a coincidence; what's in a name even with a link to the company. So, I searched site:facebook for the person's name. Same avatar. I now knew I had hit pay dirt. My knowledge has now extended to what this person "Likes" - what groups were joined - all 84 friends of this person. Thanks to Facebook and its privacy (or lack thereof) or maybe in FB's defense: lack of education of it - I could now see this person's music interests, TV shows watched, hobbies, where this person last partied (in May).

But, ever more curious, I could now see where this person had lived and how old the person is. With a quick search at PeekYou and it's connection to people search, I saw the cities surrounding the person's college and a likely person with age included. And for $5.95 at Intellius, I could buy a simple record with phone number, birthday and more!

Does this scenario scare you? It should. I did this all within fifteen to twenty minutes. I have built an identity for someone I have never met. I haven't even emailed with this person. (An executive assistant emailed me, but stated the interviewer's name and title.)

I don't know if using Steve's ORM service is the answer. But, maybe we should start taking back our privacy, our individuality. It's like the world has become a scary small town and nothing you do is hidden. And everything you do is judged. Out of context. Like Shirley Sherrod, are you being taken out of context every time you apply for a job, contact a client, interact with a vendor?

Have you ever been taken out of context? Are you frightened at all the information that can be compiled about you?

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Blogger seiko_08 said...

In this day in age it's pretty hard to hide yourself online. Unless you are using an screen name other than your actual name and your avatar is a cat :P, chances are information about you will appear online. On the flip-side not being visible online allows someone else to "be you" so to speak. It's about being smart, knowing what shows up and knowing how to react to it :)

12/02/2010 11:56 PM  

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