Social media is a fantastic tool for gathering useful information about people and businesses. Still, many users and businesses fail to realize how much of their information is recorded and compiled by the giant companies that own these social networks — and not all of this data about you is favorable. There’s no way you can escape this collection of data unless you scrap your account entirely. The scariest part? All of this data is available for purchase. The good news? You can take steps to protect yourself and manage what companies know about you — but it may be worth considering paying a reputation management service, also known as social ORM (or personalized Internet trolling).
What is reputation management?
Reputation management is the practice of managing an individual or organization’s image. You can achieve this goal through monitoring and adjustment/removal of embarrassing social media posts and mugshots. Some of this you can do yourself, but in most cases, the only way to ensure the information is gone for good is by paying for reputation management services.
Reputation management is the art of managing one’s image. One way to do this is by managing public-facing messaging on social media posts that may contain information about you personally or your business — for better or worse. Reputation management services are beneficial for all sorts of people, from celebrities and executives in high-profile jobs to regular citizens looking to have their information audited to companies needing to repair a damaged image.
Five online reputation management (ORM) services
Here’s a look at some companies that specialize in reputation management.
DeleteMe is a service that says it “removes your personal information – like name, address, age, phone numbers, email address, and photos of your home – by removing it from the source.” A person can collect a lot about someone based on their Internet browsing habits — their interests, location, employment history, and lots more. DeleteMe says it scrubs personal information from data broker websites, which “reduces your online footprint and keeps you and your family safe.”
Cost: 1 user, $129 / year; 2 users $229 / year; family of up to 4, $329 / year.
OneRep is an industry-leading service that removes your private information from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! The tool will research any instances of you in the wild. They send opt-out requests on behalf of their clients. The company says, “We scan 118 data broker websites to find your ‘profiles’ — pages with your personal information that were created without your permission.”
Cost: 1 user $14.95 / month; family of up to 6 users, $27.95 / month.
ReputationDefender is not for most individuals. It is a heavy-duty service aimed at high-powered clients. ReputationDefender provides clients with options for using software or managed services to monitor and maintain their perceived identities online. The company offers four categories of services: search result monitoring, digital privacy protection (including removing negative reviews), online review management that covers corporate/executive level consultation, and customer service issues like answering questions on social media platforms such Twitter and Reddit. All this is done so you can keep your reputation intact.
Cost: Packages range from $3,000 to $25,000.
BrandYourself is one of the oldest offerings in this space, and they began when their co-founder discovered he shared a name with an old con artist. As such, whenever someone searched for his moniker (or other variations), it seemed like there would be links to illegal activities or URLs leading nowhere good on Google results pages. After finding it was possible to scrub online from search engines, thereby by making sure no one could find any identifiable info about you, the company set up shop.
Cost: DIY software has a free and premium offering, with the latter costing $99 / year; managed services start at $599 / year.
Kanary actively monitors hundreds of sites for personal information or mentions its clients. Like DeleteMe and OneRep, Kanary says it “scans the Internet, shows which sites expose your information, and helps you protect your safety and wellbeing by removing it.” If there are any reappearances after deletion, Kanary will continue monitoring these locations until it is gone for good.
Cost: $9.99 / month.
Other ways to control your personal information
If you’re not willing to pay for a reputation manager, don’t worry. You can always start protecting yourself immediately by changing your settings in the apps and services you are already using.
When you’re looking for a new browser, be sure to consider privacy and security features. For instance: Chrome extensions can track your browsing habits even in Incognito mode. Facebook has access to information about what sites users are looking at so it can target ads.
It’s also possible that certain types of files could put yourself unknowingly at risk online. Photos or videos saved on cloud storage services might contain hidden malware, installing itself onto other devices connected with this same network connection without user knowledge.
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