Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Identity theft vs mistaken identity

I went to a seminar recently hosted by Laurel Papworth, in which was discussed the methods of managing your reputation online. We heard about people who have an alter ego (someone with the same name that they get confused with in online searches), and others whose online presence is nothing but a few personal posts in a health forum (not something you particularly want an employer to find).

Ever since, I have been meaning to Google myself (“ego-surf”) to see what came up. I haven't done it for a while...

I just did it (here) and am really rather pleased!

Of the top ten results on the first page of results (essentially all that matters) when searching for Emily Wearmouth you get:

1) This blog
2) A random old post from this blog (wonder why that post?)
3) My Dry July sponsorship page (incidentally when you google Dry July I am the third result!! Weird)
4) My Twitter profile
5) A random Tweet I made about chocolate (wonder why that tweet?)
6) My blogger profile
7) A comment I made on another blog
8) My company’s website, reporting the news of my joining last year
9) My LinkedIn profile
10) A very very old press release for a client I am bizarrely working with again on the other side of the world

So everything is me, and everything is stuff I create to be public content. My Facebook profile hides away in Google searches (which I specified in my settings), my other blogs lurk a little in the background (at least one is easily found if you go looking, but its single topic does not dominate my online identify by appearing here). I think the only thing I would change if I could would be the posts and tweets it chose (they aren’t very representative), and the aging press release.

It is interesting to think on your ego search results for a while. Many are afraid to put too much of themselves online for fear of identity theft, but isn't mistaken identity just as bad? My heavy online activity has ensured that any prospective employer googling me (or indeed future mothers-in-law even!) will only find things about me, that I have chosen to put out there. It isnt until page 2 that you even get one random result about a different Emily Wearmouth.

Its all about managing your online identity - including its security - and I am pleased with how mine is going.


Laurel Papworth said...

hahaha good on you!

Have a look at Claimid.com - they ask you to "claim" websites as "ME" or "NOT ME", I think.
Might be interesting to collate your material in one place with comments etc on it.
http://claimid.com/silkcharm though I tend to use it for other things too (like bookmarking my own sites).

Laurel @SilkCharm

@EmVicW said...

Thanks Laurel! Job done: http://claimid.com/emvicw

Em's mum said...

No! There can't be another Emily Wearmouth. You are unique!

Bill Bennett said...

It's very different for me. There are hundreds of Bill Bennetts, including some very well known ones.

Eventually I found a way to stand out from the pack. I wrote my own Bill Bennett disambiguation page which is on my business web site. It seems to work.

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