How to protect your online reputation
Much like having an excellent credit score at the credit reporting firms, a good online reputation can smooth the path for a badge bearer
Seattle Police officer Ian Walsh was captured on video in June 2010 — the video footage wasn’t of the law enforcer getting a medal at an awards ceremony. The Officer Walsh video went viral after he was captured on tape using force on two jaywalking women — a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old — who resisted his lawful commands. Walsh was later cleared and the 17-year-old has since apologized, but the videos, blogs, and comments keep coming. The YouTube video has garnered millions of views.
For law enforcers, reputation is a large part of a toolbox which helps to accomplish a dangerous and complex job. We often see how we are viewed in the real world, but seldom ponder the virtual world. That’s changing — we see more articles now on what to do and what to not do on Internet sites — but our reputation is also impacted by what we do on the streets that later ends up online.
Arenas of Credibility
While at least some people have thought to check up on their credit score reputation, very few do so with their virtual credibility. They don’t know if they are thumbs up or thumbs down in the world of the web. This is vital in the era of cell phone cameras and online blogs and commentary. Few professions are as much in the public eye, and online world, as that of the law enforcement officer. Once it’s online, it’s out there and can’t be retrieved, called back, or deleted.
Your name and your reputation are vital assets for today’s law enforcers. Your “cred” can make your job easier or harder. Much like having an excellent credit score at the credit reporting firms, a good online reputation can smooth the path for a badge bearer. Online videos, blogs, and postings can enhance your reputation, or can trash it.
All walks of life are now wired. It’s not just the stereotypical pocket protector nerdy computer geek. White collar criminals, motorcycle gangs, street thugs, and teen gang bangers are tapping keyboards posting comments, pictures, videos, and blogs on law enforcers.
I have long advocated transparency in what we do and applaud the exposing of brutal, unprofessional law enforcement which happens from time to time. Most officers are good, honest hard working crime fighters who don’t want the few bad apples to stay in our midst. The web has helped to that end, but it has also unjustly targeted the reps. of some straight arrows trying to do a tough job. Recall the case of Seattle Officer Ian Walsh mentioned in the opening of this article.
Reach of Online
Beyond the usual guidance I have written about in previous articles (including always assuming you are on camera and acting professionally as if your mother were watching), what can you do to check and enhance your online reputation? Are you thumbs up or thumbs down?
Here are a few tips to help you to find out.
Type your name in quotation marks (for example: “Richard Weinblatt”) in the search box. Had I left off the quotation marks, I’d get a bunch of irrelevant search — the quotation marks narrow the search parameters.
You can search for everything or you can narrow it down to just blogs, video, photos, and a bunch of other segments of the web using the tools on the left side of the screen. You can also refine the Google search by date. The wonder wheel function allows you to search on the various permutations of your entered search term.
Google Your Agency
Set Up Google Alerts
Search with SocialMention
You can also assess the sentiment ratio of the postings which are classified by SocialMention as positive, neutral, or negative. Be aware though that the keywords in police-related postings, comments, articles, and the like may be viewed as negative by the site (such as the word “force” or “TASER”) and can skew the ratio results reported.
Do a Twitter Search
These are the main ways of tracking your online reputation. There are other sites such as YahooPipes and BudURL. However, many of them are more involved. They are also geared more towards private sector businesses that require more in depth analysis.
Incorporate Online into Regular Safety Procedures
Your safety is an issue not just confined to the streets. Like Officer Walsh in Seattle, you too can be targeted in the wilds of the World Wide Web. Make the monitoring of your online reputation a regular part of your safety routine.
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