[LINK] Keeping up e-ppearances: How to bury your digital dirt
kim at holburn.net
Fri Feb 25 10:31:50 AEDT 2011
> My situation was uniquely humiliating, but I am not alone in feeling helpless about how my identity is presented online. Most people have stumbled across nasty surprises about themselves on the internet, be it an embarrassing photo, a record of a youthful indiscretion or even an entirely false claim.
> Thankfully, there are ways to restore your online reputation. While you might think that reducing your internet presence is the way to go, you'd be wrong. The key to managing your reputation is to spend more time online, not less. The advocates of this approach argue that polishing your online persona could soon join healthy eating and exercise in your arsenal of everyday life-maintenance chores. So how exactly do you go about it?
> Maybe the solution is to stay anonymous online. After all, if you hide behind a pseudonym like Spacegirl, you are safe, right? Not always, says Paul Resnick, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who studies online reputations.
> To show Netflix's folly, Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov at the University of Texas, Austin, got the database and cross-referenced it with reviews posted on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). This allowed them to identify almost all of the names of specific individuals, and then infer things like political affiliation and sexuality from their movie choices. "Netflix wanted to make a better recommender engine," says Michael Fertik, who runs Reputation.com, a firm based in Redwood City, California, that manages online reputations. "And they just knocked a bunch of people out of the closet."
> Teenage tricks
> So what can be done to seize back control of your rep? Perhaps surprisingly, the first place to look for inspiration is the social network profiles of the younger generations. While often portrayed as having a carefree attitude to privacy, many teenagers are using social networking to actively promote themselves. Marwick and Danah Boyd of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society are midway through a study of the Facebook profiles of high-school students, and have so-far found that many teenagers adapt their profiles to appeal to prospective universities. Instead of stereotypical teenage pursuits, these students are highlighting wholesome events such as their tennis matches. "They're revealing only their most college-friendly selves," Marwick says.
> Reputation.com is one of the many companies that have emerged over the past few years promising to wrestle back control of your online self. The firm says it can remove your name from objectionable sites, but its real focus is to improve the choice real estate - the first few pages of your search results. The main way they do this is by flooding search engines with more information.
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