Offline, you may be praised by honest men - but abuse from a few rogues online can have devastating consequences, says the Naked CIO.
Many of us Google our names from time to time to see the latest references to what we have said or done, or perhaps just to see how many results show up.
I admit to Googling the Naked CIO to see what bloggers and others have to say about my columns, some of which seem to have caused a stir.
Recently, I read an article about a teacher who, although cleared of an allegation about his conduct, was haunted by his online reputation. Online, only the allegations seemed to show up, rather than the exoneration.
Guilty even if proven innocent
It appears that through online opinion, you can be guilty even if proven innocent. But my focus here is not this story but rather the proliferation of online information about people, and how this data can affect personal and professional reputations.
A few years ago I found myself on an unpleasant Most Despised Business Leaders list. I was far down on the list and my inclusion was probably initiated by a disgruntled employee or two. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates led the list so I was in formidable company.
That website was taken down quite quickly so there was no residual impact on my reputation. But it does raise the question of how online opinions impinge on reputations and subsequent professional careers.
It used to be that any news was good news but today more and more people resort to checking the history of other individuals through online search facilities.
Scraps of information
Consequently, any small titbit of information could affect a hiring or promotion decision. I once made a soundbite comment that was a cheeky dig at my spouse - now ex-spouse.
It was in jest but it got picked up by a favourite quote site and is now cemented into any search on my name. My spouse actually later picked up on it and was not at all impressed.
The real question is does your online profile truly reflect who you are, morally and...