Bryley Basics: Protecting your Online Reputation

It seems nearly everyone we know today has some sort of Social Media account. It keeps us connected with loved ones near and far, enables the sharing of personal and professional milestones, and provides information about current events. This is great as long as certain precautions are taken. Safety and security must be considered when doing anything online.

One must also remember that anything done online can be seen by anyone no matter how “private” the group may be. The rule to remember is “once it’s on the Internet, it’s there for all to see forever.” A group of incoming Harvard freshmen learned that lesson the hard way. Roughly 10 incoming freshmen saw their offers rescinded after it was discovered that they posted explicit memes and messages targeting minorities in a private Facebook group chat.1 These students learned a valuable, albeit costly, lesson, there is no such thing as private groups or messages when it comes to the Internet.

There are several steps that can be taken to protect your online reputation:

  • Google yourself. Your reputation is largely decided by what people can see not just what you put forth. You can’t track what you don’t know about! The best way to manage this may be to setup a Google alert for your name so you can track new content.
  • Don’t post anything you’d be ashamed of later on. Many individuals will ask themselves a few questions prior to posting. A common question to ask yourself is Would I be comfortable sharing this with someone I highly admire? If the answer is No, don’t post! There are some individuals that will take a more conservative approach and if they even have to ask the question, will not submit the post for all to see.
  • Adjust your settings. Sometimes friends may add you to inappropriate posts without your knowledge and you may not find out until it’s too late and the damage is done. To prevent this, adjust your settings in your social media platforms so that you have to approve anything where you are tagged. Also, speak with your friends and let them know what you are and are not comfortable with them posting.2
  • Buy a Domain Name. For roughly $12 a year using sites such as GoDaddy, buying a domain name is added insurance to protect against others maliciously using your name. By creating a short bio, a CV, articles and other information, you can improve upon your image while boosting your ranking in search results.3

As much time as you take to curate your reputation in person, a similar amount of time, if not more, should be taken to manage your online reputation. In this day and age, perception is reality. Make sure you are the individual molding your digital persona.


1 Natanson, Hannah. The Harvard Crimson. “Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes.” 5 June 2017.
2 Facebook privacy Settings.
3 Erskine, Ryan. Entrepreneur. “How to Protect Your Online Reputation in 2017.” 23 Jan 2017.
4 O’Loughlin, Erin. Security Intelligence by IBM. “Identity theft and Social Media: How Are They Related?” 5 August 2016.