10 Ways to Keep Your Digital Reputation Protected

Don't Let Your Online Presence Ruin Your  Future

Before social media and the internet became commonplace, it was generally thought that celebrities, musicians and prominent figures were the only ones who needed to protect their image and public perception. However, with billions of people from around the world creating accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, privacy is no longer what it once seemed.

When you post publicly you are not only sharing your life's intimate details with friends, family members and peers, but also the entire world--millions of potential viewers. With the growing trend of students and athletes losing out on college scholarship opportunities along with individuals finding themselves without employment due to social media woes, understanding how to protect your own online presence and digital reputation is a must.

1. Use Better Passwords

Be smart when choosing a password for any website or social network you join. Avoid using your primary email address password for other sites to keep your email safe from hacks and unpredictable breaches. Do not create a password that is easy to guess for friends, family members and even acquaintances (such as your pet or child's name, your hometown or even your favorite color).

Store your password only in locations that are private and secure. Use a variety of characters (both uppercase and lowercase), along with numbers and special characters if possible whenever choosing a new password. An ideal solution is to use a Random String Generator while checking "numeric", "lowercase" and "uppercase" before generating the string of characters.

2. Keep Your Passwords to Yourself

Avoid sharing your passwords openly and without worry. Anyone who logs in to your account has the ability to change your password and post on your behalf, which can lead to devastating consequences and/or embarrassment.

3. Read Site Privacy Policies of Social Networks Before Posting and Sharing Personal Details and Information

Whenever joining a new social network, be sure to read privacy policies to ensure your information is kept safe and is not sold to others.

4. Check Privacy Settings on Individual Social Networks

Using different social networks requires you to set and store privacy settings for each site. After creating an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another network, be sure to access your "Account Settings" to locate your privacy and posting settings.

5. Avoid Posting Sexual or Inappropriate Photos and Updates

According to CareerBuilder, 46% of hiring managers and employers who have looked at social media profiles and Google when researching a candidate agree that provocative and inappropriate photos and updates are grounds to seek out another potential fit.

6. Keep Negative Personal Attacks to Yourself

Emotionally-driven posts are often regretted once time has past and you have gathered your thoughts. Make a conscious effort to avoid posting emotionally or making personal attacks on others to keep from giving a bad impression to potential colleges or employers along with feeling plenty of embarrassment once you have cleared your mind.

7. Avoid Making Discriminatory Comments or Jokes -- Regardless of Their Context

There have been hundreds of incidents where offensive jokes cause others backlash, loss of scholarships and even employment. Regardless of your personality and whether or not your friends and family understand the tone you post jokes in, keep them to yourself and avoid posting them online. Avoid posting any discriminatory updates including racist and sexist comments.

8. Assess Your Own Online Image Frequently

Take time to assess how you look to the public by viewing your profile and account in-depth. Consider what you would think if you were a professional in any industry and stumbled upon your real self's social networks. Would you be impressed? Would you cringe? Would you get a different impression than how you want to be presented? Every time you share a new update or post, think about this.

9. Think of Your Future Self

Do you see yourself with that degree you have been yearning for in 5 years? Do you want to land the perfect job in a bustling city? Rethink your future goals and plans and reevaluate how you are presenting yourself online and with the use of social media. Knowing how you want to be perceived is a way to make better judgment with future posts.

10. Clean Up Your Profiles

Cleaning up social media profiles can be daunting and overwhelming, but also extremely liberating and refreshing. Showcasing the best you online is a way to build credibility while increasing the number of potential opportunities you have for your future.

Julie Fisher, M.Ed., is the founder of The Social U and consults with schools, organizations and individuals through the MJ Fisher Group.  

Twitter: @Julz Fisher, @the_social_u