Tips for Creating Smart Online Habits

Tips for Creating Smart Online Habits
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This past September, CSID had the opportunity to work with Parry Aftab of WiredSafety, Jessica Miller-Merrell of Blogging4Jobs, and Neil Richards, law professor at Washington University in St. Louis on a webinar on the topic of online reputation management. (You can read more about the importance of online reputation management in my post from last week.) Parry, Neil and Jessica are three of the most respected experts in their fields and had a lot of tips to share for individuals hoping to better manage their online reputation.

Here are some of the tips that I found most helpful.

•Frequently check the privacy settings of your social media profiles.
This is a tip that Neil shared that I absolutely agree with. Social networks are constantly changing and updating their privacy policies. As a result, the privacy settings you put in place six months ago may not be the same today. Just last week, both Google and Facebook announced major changes to their privacy policies. Starting next month, Google will start sharing your recommendations with the folks you are connected with on Google+, Gmail and Google's many other owned sites. For example, if a friend searches for a restaurant on Google and you've reviewed that restaurant, your friend will see your review. Facebook's big update has made all Facebook user profiles, regardless of prior privacy settings and age, searchable on the social network (previously you could opt out of Facebook's search). Depending on what level of privacy you desire or whom you connect with on your social networks, you need to keep an eye on privacy policy changes and update your settings accordingly.

•Be smart about what you say on the Internet and what you let others say about you.
This is another tip from Neil. He suggests that everyone take the time to create a personal social media policy. Consider what audiences you interact with on each social network. If you interact with only friends and family on Facebook, than it may be okay to post casual pictures of your family vacations and events. If you engage with work contacts, then you may want to remove these pictures and limit what friends and family can post on your wall. By being aware of who you are connected with on each network, you can better judge how to interact and engage properly.

•Consider social media monitoring and web suppression services.
This is a tip that I really appreciate. It takes time to manage your online reputation and if you are like me, it can get pushed to the backburner. The simple truth is that there is information about you available online, even if you didn't put it there. Last week, I wrote about information aggregation sites like Spokeo that collect personal information about you from various places across the web to create a profile that is available to anyone willing to pay. You can ask these sites to remove your personal information, and they are legally obligated to do so; but eventually your information will just pop back up again on another site. Web suppression services can ensure your personal information stays off of these sites. These services can contact information aggregation sites on your behalf and ask them to remove your information whenever and wherever it appears. Social Media Monitoring services work a bit differently. These services keep an eye on your social profiles and will alert you if any sensitive or compromising information pops up. For example, an alert will be sent if someone shares sensitive information about you like an email address or phone number on a social site. Social media monitoring and web suppression services can help you keep your online reputation intact while reducing the risk of identity theft.

Parry, Neil and Jessica had a lot more to share on the topic of online reputation management. If this is a topic that interests you, I encourage you to check out a recording of the full webinar or download our white paper on the topic.

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