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In today’s ever expanding world of online information, personal name results are being scrutinised and picked through daily to back up offline knowledge. With real time search launched on Google recently, social media postings are being added into the monitored information equation. This raises the question, at what point does our personal responsibility for our own online reputation end?
It’s no surprise then that one of the most popular web 2.0 businesses in 2010 will be companies paid to make it their responsibility to defend personal reputations. Over the pond in the US these online services are already thriving while drenching their websites in a mixture of cheesy sales patter and over-enthusiastic stats.
Promoting Your Online Personal Brand
The lowered guards brought on by the anonymity of the web have been raised as people realise their education prospects, work future and even dating chances are affected by web information. Hiring a personal branding site to become your own online PR agent is the newest solution. PlaceYourName.com is one of these businesses, with a website overflowing with enthusiasm which claims it "creates a positive online image and gives you a solid Internet presence when someone searches your name." These businesses tend to use a mixture of SEO techniques, web development and public relations to achieve this.
Eliminating Your Online Personal Dirt
What’s the point in promoting positive online presence if you have negative postings and results that are going to drag it down? Enter services like DefendMyName.com who have a "team of engineers that is not only ready but also excited about the opportunity" to remove your negative information because of "the cool yet frightening revelation that people trust opinions they find on the internet more than those from newspapers, TV, radio and magazines."
Children’s Online Reputation
With kids now contently exposing every facet of their personal life on sites like Bebo and MySpace it’s no surprise that these services are now being targeted at parents.
A mixture of paranoia, popularity and future education/career prospects are pushing parents to hire companies such as ReputationDefender for their 'MyChild' service. This service produces a monthly report detailing references to your child's name, images, screen name and social network profiles that is meant to encourage the parent to request changes, deletions and promotion of positive results. ReputationDefender.com claims:
"Teens have always cared about their reputations - the Internet defines the reputation of a person." Besides, do teens really want their parents seeing everything they do or say online? Surely this infringes on a teenager's right to be a kid in favour of building a parent-controlled online persona for future success? Surely even online, teenagers need to build their own online persona and learn from their mistakes. Then again with 'enthusiastic' customer quotes like the one below how can anyone dispute such a service?
There are clearly a lot of legal issues with removing online information when you don’t own the rights to that post or article. An FAQ on ReputationDefender.com site highlights these issues when asked "Can you remove absolutely anything?"
The site responded stating "No. Newspaper articles and court records are difficult to impossible to remove" but goes on to state "we typically focus on content that is slanderous, private, defamatory, invasive and/or outdated." Surely two of the most slanderous and private sources of information online are newspaper articles and court records. This is one of many fairly substantial limitations for online reputation services.
At the end of the day if you're that worried about your online reputation and you want to keep it respectable then behave as though your mum or nan is looking over your online shoulder.
For more information on this topic visit Personal Branding Blog.