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Checking Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Broward County > Library > News > Spotlights > Checking Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

eConnections Spotlight

Lady's man in "cyber trouble". She gives him a stern look. He digresses, staring at the computer.Simple tools and tricks to keep your online reputation clean

Nowadays it seems like everyone from potential employers to blind dates likes to Google first, ask questions later. When you enter your name into a search engine, do you like what you find? Are there Facebook photos you wouldn’t show your Mom? Videos posted on YouTube from your brother’s bachelor party? A tasteless online joke about an ex-employer?

There are lots of ways to quickly and easily blemish your online reputation – a few keystrokes are all it takes. But there are also simple methods to clean your online reputation and make sure your online persona is perfect.

  1. Knowledge is Power: First, find out what information is out there and how damaging it is. Enter your name at Google, MSN and Yahoo and see what turns up in the first four or five pages. Sign up for alerts so that when info about you is added or updated, you’ll get an email.
  2. Bury It: If there is something about you – a picture, an article – that is not so flattering, one way to do is bury the bad with the good. Create new content if possible, such as a blog or a web site. Share great photos on a photo sharing site and make sure your name is on all of the (web appropriate) pictures you post. Studies show that 97% of searchers don’t go past the first three pages of the search, so pushing negative results down by posting neutral or positive content. Be creative: volunteer to write an article for an online industry publication or get involved in a charity that posts news about its volunteers.
  3. Claim Your Name: Buy the domain name for your real name, if possible. Start a blog and control your own online persona.
  4. Delete It: Get rid of any questionable posts or photos on all social networks including Twitter and your old MySpace account from high school. Then make sure your Facebook privacy settings are in place and at the minimum make sure your posts are shared only with friends. If you’ve been tagged in anyone’s questionable photos, now is the time to untag.

Of course, prevention is the best cure. Anything – from blog posts and forum discussions to an email sent to a friend – can end up online, so the best thing to do is conduct your online life as scrupulously as possible. If you wouldn’t want it on the front page of the newspapers, don’t post it online.

Use Broward County Library’s Online Research to Find Yourself

See if you can easily be found or try your luck tracking down a business or residential phone number with Reference USA, a free online research tool that provides more than 180 million U.S. residential listings and directory information for businesses, nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies and more, all updated monthly.

Learn More about the Internet with Free Computer Classes from Broward County Library

New to computers and want to find out more? Take a free Introduction to the World Wide Web class at a number of library locations countywide. Learn how to explore the Internet or take a beginner’s class and get acquainted with the computer. There are even free computer classes in Spanish. Check out the complete list of classes and find the perfect one for your needs.

 Books and Resources on Internet Searches, Privacy and More @ BCL:

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Blogs, Wikis, Facebook, and More: Everything You Want to Know about Using Today's Internet but are Afraid to Ask, by Terry Burrows More...
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How to Find Out Anything: From Extreme Google Searches to Scouring Government Documents, a Guide to Uncovering Anything about Everyone and Everything, by Don MacLeod More...

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Internet Power Searching: The Advanced Manual, by Phil Bradley More...

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Internet Privacy for Dummies, by John R. Levine More...

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Learn Google, by Michael Busby More...

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Teach Your Computer to Dance: Make Computers, Mobile Devices and the Internet Work for You, by Don Silver More...

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The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook, by Randolph Hock More...
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The Hundredth Window: Protecting Your Privacy and Security in the Age of the Internet, by Charles Jenning More...
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The Internet Searcher’s Handbook: Locating Information, People and Software, by Peter Morville More...
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The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Search Engines Can’t See, by Chris Sherman More...

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