According to a Microsoft survey of 5,000 respondents in the U.S., Europe and Canada, more than half of tech users — 56 percent — don’t consider how their online actions impact their reputations or affect other people.
We’ve all suspected this was true, no? And now we have some data to put to this scenario. But it’s not just on a personal or short-term basis either (though there were plenty of reports about lost friendships, online embarrassments and even identity theft). Fourteen percent reported that they’ve been fired, missed out on jobs, rejected from colleges and declined for mortgages.
The stakes can be high in this massive online honor system we’ve got going, but that doesn’t mean you have to lie down and take it. Conduct a periodic “ego search” (i.e., Google yourself and your email address, and see what pops up); check or tweak your privacy settings on your browsers, social networks, and blogs; and separate your personal and professional profiles. And, of course, if you do come across a potentially damaging post about you, hit up the friend or family member directly to take it down. (You might have to pull out that old wet t-shirt/karaoke vid/tequila shot debacle of theirs, for some insurance.) If all else fails, don’t hesitate to block that contact, if necessary.
Have you ever had something unsavory about you pop up online? How did you handle it?