Protecting Your Digital Identity

Do you know how to protect your digital identification?

As a professional, you are very aware of the need to protect your personal and professional information. But how much thought have you given to your digital identity? Are you even aware of the far reaching consequences that miss or stolen digital identity can have?

The following is a true story that was recently shared with me. Imagine that an old friend looks to see if you are on Twitter. They find you, and they see your picture. However, they are perplexed because your tweets are very much out of character, and indeed quite inappropriate for a professional. In truth, it’s not your account. It’s your name and your picture, but it’s not you. Now imagine if you will, that the person searching for you is a potential employer, business partner, post grad school acceptance committee or a disgruntled patients lawyer.  Ahh…big problem!

It’s not always a matter of deliberate stolen identification, but mis-identification is far more common. Do you know, for example, how many Barbara Phillips’ are out there? I share my name with other NPs, physicians, real estate agents and more. Chances are it’s not much different for you. This is why it’s so important for you to claim and then protect your digital identity.

Here are five steps you can take now:

  1.  Search. Log on to Google (your favorite browser) and search for yourself.  What do find? How many people have your name? Do they have accounts of Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn?
  2. Create a Google profile. Include a professional picture and some professional information. There is no need to share personal information.
  3. Purchase you name as a domain name. For example I have www.barbaracphillips.com. If you can put up a website or blog, or even just a one page with a snapshot of you as a professional. If that seems too difficult at this point, get the name anyway and just hold on to it. Domain names @ www.1and1.com or www.godaddy.com run less than $10.00 per yr.
  4. Claim your name and create profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook. There are literally dozens of other SM sites, and you may want to create a presence there as well, but at least do the big 4.
  5. Create a Google Alert for your name.  You will be notified every time goggle finds your name mentioned on the internet. You can set it up to be notified daily, weekly or monthly.

While this can seem to be a lot of work, and may even be overwhelming, it’s really important that you take the time and begin to work on this step by step. Doing so will help protect you digital identify and your digital reputation.

(c) Barbara C Phillips, NP, 2011

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