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Taking control of your online reputation by


Dr Helen Dixon


Evaluating your online reputation If you use the Internet, chances are you already have an online reputation, even if you aren’t aware of it. Every time you share information or photographs on social media sites like Facebook, or post comments to Twitter or blogs, you are leaving behind a digital footprint. Others may add their own views about you (good or bad), contributing to the image of you that is portrayed online. Whilst some social media sites offer privacy settings, information posted to these sites can still be easily shared and often becomes public. Anyone, including colleagues and current or potential employers, can find this information and may use it to make judgements about you.

Do you know what is on the Internet about you? It’s a good idea to regularly review what information is available about you online. S EARCH ENGINES   

Search for your name using a popular search engine, such as Google or Bing Search for images as well as text Try different variations of your name, any nicknames or profile names

How does your online reputation measure up? Think carefully about the story that your digital footprint is telling. 


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Review what others have posted about you online Check photographs or updates that you’ve been tagged in – make sure you can approve Facebook tags before allowing them on your timeline Find out how sites can use your information and images Don’t forget about old social media profiles that you no longer use (Bebo?)

Is the information about you online accurate? Is there information online that you would prefer not to be public? Does the information available about you reflect the reputation you want to have? If you were an employer, what impression would you have based on the information available?

Remember, any information online will probably be searchable, may be permanent and could potentially be seen by anyone.



How can you protect your online reputation? Consider how your online behaviour will reflect on your reputation.

Think before you share 

Before posting comments, photographs, videos, etc. online, think carefully about whether they could have a negative impact on your reputation – now or in the future Regardless of your privacy settings, assume anything you put online may become public – would you publish it in a national newspaper?

Connect with respect   

Don’t post anything that could cause others offence or embarrassment Respect the privacy of others and ask for permission before posting images of them online Don’t show support for offensive views by liking or sharing them

Mind your language!

Know your friends    

Restrict personal sites to close friends/family Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know Make sure you understand the privacy settings of any sites you use Discuss with your friends the type of content that you do not want them to post about you

Poor grammar/spelling or the use of vulgar/profane language will have a negative impact on your online reputation! Don’t forget about your profile/cover pictures and bio! Do they give the right impression?

Managing your online reputation Taking control of your online reputation isn’t just about removing negative content – you can use social media to create a positive online profile.

Using social media constructively Make your online profile an extension of your CV.     

Use social media to find out more about your subject area or career development opportunities Post updates and images that will create the image that you want others to see Set up a professional profile using LinkedIn, Academia or ResearchGate Join in conversations related to your area of study or career Start your own blog or social media page to comment on your area of expertise or community interests


Cleaning up your ‘digital dirt' Don’t let your online activity damage your career prospects! Things you should consider removing from online profiles include:    

References to excessive drinking or drugs taking Comments of a sexual nature Racist, sectarian, homophobic, sexist or extremist views Support for illegal activities or organisations

FOR MORE INFORMATION Check out the Social Media Guide for Staff/Students at

If you find content online that could harm your reputation:

Like us on Facebook at

Follow us on Twitter at

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Send a polite request asking the publisher to remove or correct it If that doesn’t work, report the content using the links provided If appropriate, post a correction but don’t get involved in an online argument!

Read our blog at

Online reputation  

Taking control of your online reputation by Dr Helen Dixon

Online reputation  

Taking control of your online reputation by Dr Helen Dixon