Internet marketer Jane Copeland expressed some dismay over a people search engine called Spock.com. Essentially, this service allows anyone to set up a profile for anyone else and then the search engine will draw from various sources around the web to include information about you and anyone can go up and add information about you, whether it is true or not. There are several things wrong with this, but rather get into those and harp on things that will take more than a few blog posts to fix, let me suggest a few ways you can use this service as a positive reputation management tool.
First, you should set up your own profile before someone else does. As Jane Copeland says in her blog post, it can be a royal pain to fix inaccurate information once it is published. If you set up your own profile then you can set the pace for the information about you before someone else does. Plus, by including some basic information about you – websites you are connected with (and that includes social networking profiles) and people with whom you are connected – then the service can go from there to add other stuff that it finds about you. That leads me to my next two points:
- Be careful what you say about yourself online. Everything you do online is public record. If you’d be embarrassed by it, don’t let it get online. If you think that 20 or 30 years from now something can come back and haunt you, or if it’s something you wouldn’t want your children or grandchildren knowing about you, then don’t let it get online – anywhere. Even in the most private and secure areas of the Net.
- Update your Spock.com information periodically. This is not something you have to pore yourself over every day. Who knows if this service will be popular in the future? It could, like many other website concepts, just die. And if so then no bother. But right now, it’s alive and well. As long as it is live, it has potential dangers. From a reputation management perspective, it is better if you go in and update the information than if someone else does. So, once a month or so, just go by and make sure the information is accurate and up to date. If something is no longer true, add a change to the news segment (but pay attention to Rule No. 1 above). You don’t have to tell the world everything about yourself. Just make sure that what you do tell them is accurate and reflects your own sense of self worth and privacy.
Finally, don’t play dirty pool with other people’s online information. That’s bad karma, and besides, if you wouldn’t want them doing it to you then don’t do it to them.