Don’t Do What I Did: The Abbreviated Guide to Online Reputation Management

Since my post on transparency and authenticity for Mark Shaefer’s blog {grow} went up three months ago, I’ve received several emails from individuals who have either gone through what I did, or have had their reputations threatened with ruin.  Most of us have heard horror stories of a Google or Facebook search losing someone a prized position.  The bad guys out there know this, know that reputations and online identities are powerful and capitalize on that.

When I’m asked what advice I have to give, I usually begin the same way: Don’t do what I did.

I got scared, I felt alone, I felt a deep loss of identity and instead of standing my ground I hid.  This did the trick in the short-term, but in the long-term has caused significant problems.  I cannot be clearer on this: Do not do what I did.

Continue reading

Should Minors Have Different Facebook Privacy Settings?

A few weeks ago I noticed that the Facebook status updates of a teenage relative were tagged with her approximate location.


Before I go on, I should disclose that my teenage relatives rarely listen to me when it comes to Facebook.  I’ve accepted that they’re still going to post /those/ photos, use /that/ language and write about /that thing that happened last night.

There are few issues I bring to their attention, but this one struck a nerve: Facebook was posting the location of a 17-year-old girl when she updated her status.  This somehow wasn’t right.

I noticed she was online and started chatting with her:

“Hey, you should disable the geotagging feature on your Facebook status updates.  Everyone can see where you are when you update.”

“Yeah, I’ve tried to take it off, but I can’t.” Continue reading

Transparency, Authenticity and Privacy in Social Media

Originally posted on Mark Schaefer‘s blog {grow} on October 4, 2011.

A few of you have likely noticed that this post wasn’t written by Mark, but by someone named Leslie Lewis.  That’s not my real name and you don’t need to know my real name.

Having worked in social media since 2005, I knew I needed a tightly controlled message and presence online.  You could Google my name and find my blog or find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr or Facebook.

I used my real name, shared real stories, photos and details from my life.  I was as transparent and authentic as I preached to my clients that they needed to be.

All of that ended in early 2010 when someone who knew me launched an online smear campaign with allegations that were wholly baseless and untrue but were professionally damaging.

Law enforcement was helpless to stop the flow of fake accounts in my name, due to issues of state, federal and international jurisdiction complications.  After consulting with several lawyers I was told that civil action would be long, disruptive and expensive process.  In the end I was told my best option would be to contact Google or LinkedIn every time a new one appeared. Continue reading