I’m sure that you’ve Googled yourself. If you haven’t, I can wait a minute.

The result you get is fueling the need for a new breed of image manager; the Reputation Manager.

From IOL Technology:

“We are seeing online mobs emerge and launch attacks… with significant consequences, both to the people online and to their reputation offline,” University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron told AFP.

The anonymity afforded by the Internet “gives people a kind of strength to be much harsher than they would be in person,” Georgetown University sociology professor, and co-founder of International Reputation Management (IRM) Christine Schiwietz said.

Reputation managers step in where the law has failed, to provide “digital botox” to names in need of repair, as Schiwietz put it.

A group of women law students at prestigious Yale University who were attacked online, in what has come to be known as the Auto-Admit scandal, have taken on the services of reputation management group, Reputation Defender.

Reputation management is by no means a new phenomenon. Whether we’re aware of it or not, our social groups define us based on any number of variables and define where they think we belong. This definition is based on what that group thinks they know about us.

A definition from Wikipedia:

Reputation management is the process of tracking an entity’s actions and other entities’ opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions; and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop. All entities involved are generally people, but that need not always be the case. Other examples of entities include animals, businesses, or even locations or materials. The tracking and reporting may range from word-of-mouth to statistical analysis of thousands of data points.

Reputation management has come into wide use with the advent of widespread computing. This is evidenced by a recent front page story in the Washington Post featuring several online reputation management firms. Reputation management systems use various predefined criteria for processing complex data to report reputation. However, these systems only facilitate and automate some aspects the process of determing trustworthiness. This process is central to all kinds of human interaction, including interpersonal relationships, international diplomacy, stock markets, communication through marketing and public relations and sports.

In a world that is more and more dominated by both technology and information, it is easy to see why reputation management is becoming important.

More from IOL Technology:

“There are around 10 000 Google searches made each second, and googling is expected to double or triple because you will be able to do a search anywhere with a handheld device,” Kader said.

“I’ve been at meetings where people have googled the person opposite them,” he added.

One method used by IRM to buff someone’s Internet legacy is to get the good news about them as high up in Google search results as possible.

“People are increasingly basing their first impression on what they see on the Internet, but few go beyond the first five results on Google,” said Kader.

It is not surprising that blogging will result in having your name come up in a Google search. As a blogger, I can only see that as a good thing– the more people who read me, the better I look to the people who pay me. Fortunately, I have my own reputation management right here on TR — my peers. I have little doubt that if I mess up, I will hear it, and maybe even in enough time to fix it without resorting to digital Botox. But now I am curious. What would a Google search turn up about you?

More Information:

Do you Google job candidates? (TechRepublic- View from the cubicle)

Smile, you’re on Google (TechRepublic- IT News Digest)

Are you prepared to be Googled (TechRepublic- View from the cubicle)