Today, a man who did nothing wrong is fighting to clear his name. He and the company he works for have been bombarded with nasty emails, Facebook messages, stomach-turning tweets enough that he had to disable his accounts and any professional/personal profile along with them.
Why, you ask? Because he had the misfortune of having the same name as someone who made derogatory comments about Hispanics in a Hazelton-area newspaper. Richard Peter Yanoski Jr., 39, has had his life turned upside down because he shares the same first and last name with Richard Mark Yanoski, 53, who actually made the disparaging and inflammatory remarks to the Standard-Speaker feature in the daily newspaper.
Now Richard Peter Yanoski Jr. is going through the painstaking process of trying to put his life back together. Waiting out the fury and vitriol is no easy task, especially for a family and business man who had no idea this was coming.
Could this happen to you? Would you be able to prevent this or at least lessen the impact? In short, yes and yes.
In today’s social media savvy world, it easy to Google someone or find someone via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And when you do any of these searches, (try it with your own name) it becomes abundantly clear how many people share the same name as you. This is why it’s SO important to utilize some common sense and techno-savvy to set yourself apart from the crowd and protect your career and personal life.
Here are 5 tips to protect your online reputation:
- Middle Names Are Useful: Always include your middle name in your personal & professional profiles. It helps separate you from others, especially if you have a common name like Parker, for example. Your middle name can help people find you and it can also help determine that you are not the same person who made inflammatory remarks about a segment of society in a daily newspaper.
- Keep Mum: Try not to use your mother’s maiden name in your online profiles. This particular piece of family history should be kept quiet because many security checks (in particular for banking, finance, and credit checks) ask for your mother’s maiden name.
- Be In The Know: Set-up Google Alerts that search for your full name. This will tell you whenever something new appears online that could affect your online reputation. It may find some unflattering things about an internet doppelganger, but at least you can be prepared.
- Know Your Privacy Settings: If you are using a social network strictly for personal use, then set high privacy controls. Think about your objective for using the site—is it to establish your thought leadership and expertise? If so, you will not want high privacy settings so that you can be found.
- Be smart and think about tomorrow: Now that content can be published with the click of a button, anytime and anywhere, we have to be smart about we put out into the digital world. If you are asked to comment on a topic be prepared for those comments to follow you around the internet and even cross-over into real-life. Do not write, blog, or say anything that you would not want posted as a newspaper headline tomorrow. Be smart, be savvy, and be safe!
Do you have some tips on protecting your name and online reputation? Have you encountered bad press that was attributable to someone else with a similar name? Tell us your story.