Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University has written a thought provoking article in the New York Times.
The focus is “how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing – where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever”
And the primary lesson to be learnt is that everything you ever put online can come back to haunt you!
There are sobering examples of job applicants never getting out of the starting gates after the content of their tweets and Facebook rants have re emerged to haunt them.
As the recent press coverage of Wikileaks demonstrates, the web is also the platform of choice for the disaffected. On the positive side whistle blowers have a global medium through which they provide balance to an orchestrated PR positioning. And people are genuinely interested in the recent information posted on the site with Google Trends recording Wkiileaks as the #1 ranked “hot topic”, even out pacing the Clinton wedding.
But there are few reliable ways to comprehensively verify information and even searching through reputable sources can have its problems.
Take the Chocomize story as an example. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land in his article about the Google Sewerage Factory says “The pollution within Google News is ridiculous. This is Google, where we’re supposed to have the gold standard of search quality. Instead, we get “news” sites that have been admitted – after meeting specific editorial criteria – just jumping on the Google Trends bandwagon, outranking the actual article causing the term “chocomize” to be popular, polluting the news results and along the way, earning Google some cash.”
So if, as Jeffrey Rosen has written, the web means the end of forgetting are we finding and remembering the right stuff in the first place? The search results may be garbled but the data is there forever.
If you really want to mask your identity from any future employer you may wish to take the advice of Michael Fertik, founder of ReputationDefender, and Paul Ohm, a law professor at the University of Colorado. The New York Times article covers questions of Internet privacy with practical advice on how to make online commentary untraceable.
Meanwhile Google maps is making it even harder for a company to run from a bad reputation, They are now using sentiment analysis and pulling content from non traditional sources like newspaper articles and single blog entries that appear across the internet.
Writing in his blog, Mike Blumenthal sees a marketing research opportunity in this new development – the ability to discover review sites in your market:
“Go to maps.google.com and simply type the domain that you identified into the Maps search box ie, blogto.com You might want to include a local modifier. Maps will display an array of Places listed in which the site you identified has been mentioned. You can verify that they are a review source by then examining the review section of the Places Page”
He adds “This new capability will dramatically increase the reach of hyperlocal blogs, change how businesses manage the review process and could, over the long haul, change how and where reviews are generated and aggregated.”.
Clearly this is a reputation management challenge that businesses need to be aware of. Not forgetting that what happens on the web, stays on the web.