Adam j


This is part 3 of the series Managing your online presence / Online Reputation Management (ORM)

See Part 1

See Part 2


Common sense is somehow not so common.  Not to make you paranoid but much of the internet is watching you and recording what you do to some extent.

There are basic pieces of knowledge (just like in real life) that can be invaluable in protecting yourself both online and in the real world.  This is not a complete list of everything, nor is it in a particular order, what I consider important for you to know is the following:

Don’t use your real information unless you want people to find you

Full name: a simple Google search of “your real name” can quickly provide links to most places it’s used.  This also applies user names.  If just one site links your user name to your real identity (and you use the same user name on multiple sites) almost anyone can connect the dots and link all of those profiles to you.

Mailing/Home address:  Don’t put this online! Most people would not tell a stranger where they live.  With all of the other viable communications options available no one is going to try and send you a letter first.  I personally also apply this rule to resumes posted online.

Personal phone number: Post at your own discretion.  Personal phone numbers online can lead to random people calling you, also there are telemarketers trolling the web for new ways to reach you.  Phone numbers can also be used to reach other information such as your phone carrier, geographic location and public records.

Email: Yes, this is a good way to contact you.  Posting an email may lead to increased spam and the address you list will become searchable.  If you use the same email address to sign up for multiple accounts online such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. a search of the email will also bring up those accounts, as many sites use email as a way to identify your friends.

I use several email accounts to help divide my online identity and life:

1 for required forms that will likely generate spam

2 for online accounts/social media

2 for this website

1 for personal and business use that’s not listed anywhere online

In a day and age where email is essentially free maintaining multiple accounts is a simple solution that can help you protect your privacy.

A second point on email

When listing an email address on a resume make sure that you have control of the account and it’s professional/appropriate.  There is nothing wrong with using vanity email accounts but you need to consider what type of impression will be made when someone reads your email is {I made that one up so hopefully it doesn’t exist}.  In terms of control a .edu email can be look more professional for students, but it doesn’t belong to you it belongs to your institution.  This means that upon leaving school, a term abroad, or at any point with little to no warning the account can be shut off.  If someone holding your resume attempts to contact you via an email address that doesn’t work, your resume will find its way into a trash can.

Don’t disclose or place any information online that you want any shred of privacy to

Even if you lock down every bit of personal information you have online behind privacy filters it’s not really safe or hidden.  In extreme cases websites can be hacked, but more often some information is just open to friends (and friends of friends) to see online.  Several sites {*cough*, Facebook} often change their privacy policies which can leave you standing out in the open unexpectedly with your information.

Be nice to others and be aware of the consequences of what you do online

Being nice to others and the golden rule are very simple ideas which are not entirely embraced by large portions of the internet.  The anonymous nature of the internet may make you feel safe to say or do anything, but remember that everything online always leaves some sort of electronic trail.  Several high profile events: Girl throwing puppies in the river, UCLA Asian rant, and Kitten Stomping {Google these if you haven’t heard, none are very pleasant}, prove that people will go out of their way to find and expose your entire (real) identity if they feel you deserve it.  This can lead to lives literally being destroyed.  The best phrase I’ve heard recently is “If you’re not prepared to defend an idea in court, don’t put it online.”

Don’t post other peoples personal information or works without express permission to do so.

You need to specifically ask, “May I list your name/contact info/put up your picture on my site.” Social Media has blurred these lines a bit but you need to remember that you will be held ultimately responsible for anything you post online, and asking permission takes less than a minute.

Don’t misrepresent yourself online.

With the power of Google false information can be spotted relatively quickly with ease.  If people find out that you’ve misrepresented yourself online it can permanently damage your image and credibility.

Don’t type while angry

The ability to respond to something instantly with email or social media can lead to instant problems.  When you’re emotional about a topic stop for a moment, sit down and wait until your head is clear.  Making a snap judgment, writing it down, then giving others a record of it can lead to serious regret and problems after the fact.  Sometime in the future the will be a full post on this topic alone.


Are there internet common sense rules that you live by that I haven’t listed?  Let me know in the comments and when I come back to this I may add them into the revision.


Up next I’m going to shift back to websites for a bit with: I’ve got a domain name – now what?

Here’s a teaser: You only get to pick 2

Fast-Good-Cheap Triangle - You can only pick 2 points


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