How to Clean Up Your Online Identity
The internet is a vast place, and for the most part things stick around on there unless they’re specifically removed. (Or hidden.) Making sure that you only have positive information come up when people search for you is important not just for your professional life, but for your dating life as well. Yes, that girl you’re going out with this weekend probably already Googled you.
Most people have some general nightlife photos on their Facebook pages and this can be a good thing since social people are appealing. But there’s a limit to what should be shared since clearly drunken debauchery photos are not appealing to bosses or to potential girlfriends. Untag yourself from anyone else’s photos that you’re not into and then check your privacy settings to friends only.
You can also make custom lists on Facebook if you just must share certain things but don’t want everyone to be able to see it, as well as change the privacy of all your past posts with a single setting change. Keep scandalous photos off your dating profiles and Instagram altogether.
Generally pretty standard stuff will come up when you search for yourself online, like your alma mater, business profiles, and social media, but if anything else unfavorable comes up you can directly contact site administrators and ask them to remove it. Be sure and look at photos in addition to data. To get the full scope of things log out of your own browser account before you search for yourself so the results aren’t tailored to your search history.
Some surveys have found that 41 percent of women look at LinkedIn profiles when they’re checking out guys on the internet. At first that might be surprising since they’re not likely to find anything juicy there but, they can get a better idea of how legit you are since it is a professional networking site. Have a good professional photo and keywords that describe your interests as well as your job experience in your bio.
If you have abandoned social media profiles online that are still set to public you might want to shut them down. (Imagine what your first MySpace profile would say about you if it was still live.) Same goes for that blog you used to update sporadically, if the content isn’t relevant to who you are now anymore then maybe it shouldn’t be so publicly searchable.
It might have been cathartic to describe that terrible breakup in intimate detail, but if anyone sees that now they might run for the hills. Plus, women have a real thing with obvious grammar errors so you don’t want to be unfairly judged over sporadic postings.
If there are things online that you would rather people not see, but aren’t going to be removed anytime soon, just get more stuff indexed so that it gets lost in the noise. Stay active on your social media accounts that are linked with your real name. Just make sure it’s stuff that you want to stick around. According to a Google exec:
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
Then there’s that.
About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.