Imagine waking up to find you’re the star of a viral Facebook video captioned “Lawyer Caught on Camera in Drunken Uber Rage.”
A nightmare, right? Yet this experience was all too real for a Miami doctor who got into an intoxicated tussle with an Uber driver one fateful night. Punches were thrown. Threats were made. Bad words were spoken.
It was an ugly spectacle, but one that within 48 hours had largely dropped off the public radar, supplanted by the freshest slice of Internet drama.
But for one individual – the second-year neurology resident captured on camera – the incident will not vanish so quickly.
What did her professors and peers think after seeing the footage? How will prospective employers react? Will this dark cloud overshadow the bright parts of her resume?
Smile, You’re On Candid Camera
Your response to all of this might be to whip out your smartphone and begin deleting all YouTube clips and social media posts that cast you in a less-than-flattering light. Don’t bother. It’s probably too late.
An embarrassing video once seen – or screen-grabbed – cannot easily be unseen.
“I am extra cautious about what I post today on social media, where I go, or how I conduct myself in a public forum,” says one young attorney. “[T]oday, more than ever, social media is compromising our privacy and very easily, our professional image. Millennials are at the forefront of this challenge – it’s no longer just fear of word spreading from person to person, it’s fear of social media being able to spread faster than wildfire. One foolish mistake can cause things to spiral out of control.”
Eight Ways to Safeguard your Online Reputation
- Google yourself. What information comes up?
- Inventory your social networks. Keep track of all the sites you use, along with passwords and log-in information.
- Update your social media privacy settings. Go back in time and review early entries – perhaps from prior jobs or social groups – to see if any content needs to be edited or removed.
- Know where your posts are going. Are they shared with the general public or only within a limited group?
- Be careful with basic information like your name and profile image. These are available universally on Facebook and other platforms.
- Think before you send. If you wouldn’t want your mother to see it, don’t post it. And remember: anyone who receives your content can pass it along and share it. Before you know it, the whole world is watching.
- Protect your passwords. Don’t take the risk of someone hacking your site and posting damaging material.
- Monitor what is said about you. Comments and feedback from others become part of your social media profile.
What steps do you take to protect your Internet reputation? How do you avoid online embarrassment? Send us a comment.