This is a challenge I put forward to my friends one night to which many of the answer was a no accompanied by a confused lift of the “why would she ask this” brow. I believe I received this response because there is a vain perception behind self-searching. However we swiftly agreed that it was ok to google others; the guy who asked for our number, the girl starting at work next week, the boss before a job interview. We all do it, it’s no doubt that it’s a form of research, a tool to help you prepare for the unknown and gather all required information.
Courtesy of technology, we are all authors today as well as audiences spinning our own world wide web of digital footprints and while we’ve been aware of this for quite some time, when this virtual knowledge base that we call the internet began, not all of us knew the sheer power it would have on our everyday lives and how each one of us would contribute to it daily without even knowing so or giving permission. Being public relations professionals, our routine is consumed with building, shaping and protecting brands both online and traditionally. We do so with passion and determination to ensure the right messaging is out there and that the brand is protected. It does pose the question, why don’t we do this as rigorously for ourselves also?
For me personally, this question arose when I discovered “I” was looking for love and wanting to settle down with a nice man who could take me to dinners. I also discovered that “I” was 165cm tall and originally from Argentina, at least that’s what the dating site that had stolen my Facebook profile picture recited. Outraged and determined to find more occurrences of identity theft I continued my google, and I came across Annie Lane, an Instagram user with an uncanny resemblance. Both sites now history, it’s a little frightening to think about who may have saw those believing it was me. I had no power over the most important brand, myself.
Experts in digital theft encourage us to take control of our digital footprints through routine monitoring and conscious editing. For many it’s not quite so easy, it’s a losing battle of signing terms and conditions you don’t understand without knowing you’re doing so adhering to their rules and at times not even having ownership of your personal data. Me, well I believe that we are the only sources of self-information and that it’s both our right and duty to protect this. It is essentially the only brand worth fighting for.