These days, for better or for worse, you are who Google says you are. Whether it’s your first meeting with an investor, employer or prospective marriage partner, the chances are they will have looked you up well before you have a chance to make a first impression. This means it’s important to make sure your online footprint represent you in the right light. Worried your online profile isn’t flattering? Follow these steps.
Search for your name
Use a tool like Knowem.com to check places your name is mentioned. It scans over 500 social media networks around the world to see if anyone has signed up your name, brand or a trademarked slogan. If you think someone else is using your identity – particularly if it’s a squatter – this website also tells you how to report it and secure the name for yourself.
Stop the spread
There are sites that are designed to duplicate (steal!) content, either for phishing or replicating on other websites. For $130 a year, you can enlist Abine.com’s DeleteMe service to scour the internet’s leading data sites and remove your personal information, contact details and photos of you. It will check back every few months to make sure your name hasn’t been added again.
Erase embarrassing words
If you want to remove an old forum post from Reddit, or an embarrassing blog you wrote as a teenager, you will have to contact the webmaster of those sites individually. To find out who to ask, you can either look at the Contacts section of the site to find the right person or go to www.whois.com and search for the domain name. There you should find information on who exactly to reach out to.
Delete en masse
You may have to accept that there are some things you won’t be able permanently delete from the internet. There are apps that promise to delete every Tweet you’ve ever posted, which can be useful if you’re worried about a prospective employee checking on you. But, they will only delete the posts from your profile. They will still be present on any sites your data has been fed to.
The final thing you can do to minimise content that may cripple your future connections is very simple – just be an awesome human. Right now, it’s not possible to delete yourself from the internet completely but you are a good person, you naturally get tagged and associated with good news, which can be better than not being mentioned at all.