summer-1501608_1920Sadly, the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) has come and gone without me darkening the doorstep of any of the venues showing the films. I did, however, get to see Snowden when it went into wider release a week or so after its festival screening. The movie is Oliver Stone’s dramatic interpretation of whistleblower Edward Snowden. In 2013, Snowden released to journalists at The Guardian documentation proving that the national Security Association in the US (and other security departments in other countries, including Great Britain and Canada) was illegally spying on regular citizens.

I’ve followed Snowden’s revelations since the beginning. But, watching Stone’s interpretation of events had me thinking about how writing, editing, and social media management all relate.

One take-away is that it’s as important as ever to manage your online reputation. Whether you’re a writer or editor, you want your clients to see you at your best. You don’t need to be a hacker to be able to access information about another person. So, all of us need to pay attention to what we’re posting to our social media accounts and what others are saying about us online.

Employers and clients now actively mine for information about a candidate in any way they can. Is it alright for employers or clients to peek into our personal social media accounts? I would argue that it absolutely isn’t. If I could change that practice, I would. But, the last time I checked, no one had crowned me Queen And Ruler Of All.

Despite what sounds like a no-win situation, there are steps we can all take to protect our privacy.

  • Facebook Photos & Memes. You crashed a wild party last night, and you took a whole lot of photos. You want all your Facebook friends to know how much fun you had, so you post your photos. If your future you (even if “future” means next week) would be embarrassed by those photos, then don’t post them without visiting Facebook’s Privacy Settings first. With the help of some filters, you can direct those potentially compromising photos directly to particular friends and keep them away from your clients’ prying eyes. The easiest way to separate your personal and professional life is to have two Facebook accounts. Go ahead and lock down your personal Facebook account and leave your professional account accessible to anyone searching for information about you.
  • Clean Your Footprint. When people Google your name and see poor customer reviews or derogatory comments you’ve left on other people’s websites, they’re not going to be too keen on doing business with you. Remember think of an Internet search as your business card. Take a few minutes to Google yourself. Go as deep into the search as possible. Pay attention to the kind of information that shows up associated with your name. Is it all appropriate?
  • Wipe Out Old Accounts. You set up a MySpace account, but you haven’t checked in on it in years. Visit it now, and delete it. Root out all the social media accounts you’re no longer active on and delete them, too.
  • Think First. The number one way of making sure your online reputation remains pristine and reflects who you are is to think before you post. Never assume that a photo or a comment you post won’t come back to haunt you. Understand what your brand is all about, and keep what you post in line with that image.

Over to you: Have you ever run into problems maintaining a good reputation online? Let me know how you keep it all clean.

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