Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wiping yourself off the Web

NPR's "Morning Edition" had an interesting segment today about how you can hire others to help clean up your online identity.

One such business,, will search through your Internet profiles to show you how you appear to others online. If there's something you'd rather not have the world see, the company will contact whoever controls the site on your behalf and ask them to remove the embarrassing content. If they refuse, "the company is ready to use attorneys."

The company's CEO, Michael Fertik, explains that the idea grew out of news stories that recounted the tales of recent college graduates who were denied jobs because of the things they did during their school days that were subsequently posted on the Web. (Use your imagination as to what those activities could be.)

If you can't get rid of such content, you can obscure it, says Tom Drugan, co-founder of another business that will assist you in cleaning up your online image, Namyz. In something known as "flooding the search engine," Drugan says you can create blogs or MySpace pages with lots of positive content. The more good things you post about yourself, the higher those pages will be in search engine results and the lower the ranking for the negative material.

Since most of these businesses are relatively new, it will be interesting to see how many people will ultimately use them. But David Perry, an executive recruiter, "says that with so many recruiters vetting people on the Internet, job candidates either need to background themselves or hire someone else to do it for them."


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