Hi! Today we’re going to be talking about
your online identity and how you can manage and protect it.
Everything we do online leaves some sort of trace such as buying something from an online
retailer like Amazon or even just carrying out a Google search. You leave traces of yourself
across the internet. Sometimes these traces can be small things like your IP address or
the location that you were searching from. Some companies use these little traces to
build up a picture of you so they can promote their services to you better. You can sometimes
control how these traces get released but often they just happen without you even realising.
But when it comes to your identity, you have a little bit more control over what you release.
Your identity is you and more specifically, facts about you. Things like your date of
birth, where you went to school, or even your hair colour. Your identity is the sum of your
characteristics, some of which change over time and some of which stay the same.
When you create new accounts online, you often use an identifier such as an email address
or username. What you then put on this account, especially with services such as Facebook,
becomes your persona. Confused yet? Well that’s ok but knowing the differences between these
different terms can help you stay safe online and also stay in control of what information
about you is out there for the world to see. But how does all of this apply to your research
or studies? Understanding how your use of the internet can leave a trace allows you
to manage your online identity a lot better. To explain what I mean by this, try googling
yourself. If you have a fairly common name, maybe combine it with a town name that is
more commonly associated with you, such as Cambridge. Are you surprised by the results?
Is there anything there you expected to come up but didn’t?
The reason as to why I’m highlighting this is that the more you progress through your
professional career, whether that’s in research or in something completely different, what
people can find about you through a simple web search can be quite important. Regularly
checking on what comes up for you and making sure that any profiles and accounts are up-to-date
and accurate is a key part of maintaining your online identity, in both professional
and personal capacities. Too much or too little information could affect
how you are perceived by others, sometimes unfairly. An out-of-date LinkedIn profile
can easily turn people off connecting with you while lots of overly personal information
may allow others to know a bit more about you than you are entirely comfortable with,
such as Facebook posts being viewable by everyone because you haven’t taken care with your
privacy settings. Another area where you can manage your online
identity is ensuring that any accounts you do have are safe and still need to be kept
live. Services such as Twitter can be prone to being hacked and sending out lots of spam
tweets without you even realising it as you haven’t used an account for a few years.
One excellent service to ensure that your security hasn’t been compromised is haveibeenpwned?
In leetspeak internet slang, pwned essentially means to appropriate or gain ownership, often
in gaming scenarios. In the case of haveibeenpwned, it allows for you to check that any emails
or other accounts haven’t been compromised in any mass hacking events.
If you do find your account is compromised, it’s a good opportunity to change passwords,
or possibly even check on any unusual activity and even close the account down if you are
no longer using it. Once you’ve sorted out any rogue accounts
that you had forgotten about and made that old MySpace page a bit more private, you can
now start developing your professional online identity. There are lots of excellent services
out there, some of which we will explore in other videos, and they will help you build
a professional presence online with relatively little effort. To get a better idea of what
is out there, check out the University of Cambridge’s Office of Scholarly Communication’s
website which we’ve linked to in the description below.
I hope that this video hasn’t worried you too much and that you now understand the importance
of keeping tabs on what you post online and how you can quickly and easily present the
best online identity for yourself for others to find online.
Let us know in the comments what weird and wonderful things you found out about yourself
when you tried googling your name… and see you next time for more Moore Methods!