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Monday, 10 August 2015

The Necessity of Protecting Your Digital Tattoo

An amusing incident occurred a few years ago.  Edward Cook - 6’4” 36 year old American wanted for credit card fraud and identity theft.   My father, Edward Cook – 5’10”, 50 year old British/Canadian citizen.  This is who my father was mistaken for by creditors and police.  Although my Mom thought it very funny that my father could be mistaken for a 6’4” 36 year old crook, it was fortunate for him that the problem was easily resolved and my father’s credit and personal information was secure.  This might have given my parents a chuckle after the fact (mostly my Mom), but protecting and maintaining a positive online “you brand” that shields and safeguards both your personal image and private information is something that everyone should be concerned about.

Start by Googling your name.  Googling your name is not narcissistic as some might think; it is actually a chore those of us who use the internet and social media should perform every now and then to take care of our online image.  I Googled my name, and was very proud of the fact that I discovered very little personal information and one pretty good picture.  Although I have used the internet for many years, I entered the social media arena only a few years ago and am beyond the need of posting drunken girl’s night out photos; however I am a serious job hunter and am very conscious of how potential employers might view my Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.  I want to be judged by the lifestyle that I actually lead and the person that I am, not by a Saturday night at my best friend’s bachelorette party. 

Being online is like being in public and what it means to be public or private has changed in the last 10 years. With the invention of the personal computer in the late 80’s the very notion of privacy has been re-defined and nowadays may be influenced by culture, economics, society, religion and numerous other factors.  Social media encourages the publication of private information to an unparalleled extent.  In most cases we contribute information willing and knowingly, however when another party posts pictures or information unbeknownst to us, we are powerless.  But are we???

Manage Your Online Image

 A)  Maintain a consistent and positive message.  Adopt an  appropriate user name and photo.  Think before you post comments and pictures or like/share a page. 



                                                       B)  Check your settings.  Ensure that your settings on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites reflect a positive image.



C)  Consider your audience.  Maintain your self-respect and personal image.  Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandparents or a prospective employer to see. 



These are just some of the guidelines that I’ve implemented for all of my social media pages that allow me to be in command of my online reputation.  Another means of monitoring your social presence is through such search engines as Social Mention  or Boardreader  These sites will allow you to monitor what others may publish without your knowledge.  With a young son who is always looking over my shoulder when I’m browsing Facebook, I hope he’ll follow my guarded but vigilant example for his social media pages in the not so distant future, whatever they may be. Below I’ve suggested a little help.


Online Reputation Management for Dummies Paperback– October 9, 2012
By Lori Randall Stradtman


Not only do you need to protect your online reputation, but it’s imperative to safeguard your private information such as your social insurance number, financial information, passwords and pin numbers etc. Here are some of the guidelines I strictly adhere to; 

a)  Create passwords using a combination of upper and lower case, numbers and symbols and change them on a regular basis. 

b)  Use antivirus software and scan regularly

c)  Don’t open emails from unknown sources or visit questionable websites

d)  Make sure you understand the consequences of sharing private information.  Here is some help. 


Please take a few minutes of your time and review what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police have to say about identity theft and how important it is to be educated about the dangers of having your private information stolen and used for illegal purposes.  Remember it is against the law.