Occasionally, when I’m dining with dignitaries and minor members of royalty, someone peers across the table and asks “haven’t I seen you on Spandex Turkey Lovers Online?” and I’m forced to mutter some hastily conjured excuses that it certainly couldn’t be me, must be a doppelganger, have you had your eyes checked recently? The things we did years ago on the internet leave traces in caches and far off servers all over the world, and with 26% of hiring managers running potential employees’ names through search engines (10% doing the same on social networking sites) that “hilarious” photo-journal you did on Geocities might all of a sudden become a major hurdle in your path to the boardroom.
Wired News write about a service called ReputationDefender, who for $10 to $16 a month will produce regular reports on your online identity and, for $30 a time, will purge any particular item you’d rather not be there. They break down the service into three general categories – My Reputation, dealing with adults wanting to delete lapses of common-sense in their past; My Child, for parents wanting to delete details their children may have posted about themselves; and My Privacy, which deals more specifically with personally-identifiable data like phone numbers held by data-sharing sites.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to update my profile on the Wicked Burrito Ticklers message-board.