Expert advice for cleaning up online profiles

PORTLAND -- As college students prepare to graduate, many are thinking about their future. Experts say they should also be focused on their digital past.

Oh my goodness, my MySpace account, said Natalyia Payne, a senior at Portland State University, after Googling herself.

Payne knows prospective future employers will see that history if they typed her name into a search engine.

Whatever we posted online when we were younger, all those dorky things, employers are going to be looking at that, said Payne.

Digital dirty laundry isn't just a problem for college-aged kids. So how can you clean up your online reputation?

The first thing you should do is simply Google yourself, said Melissa Barker, Social Media Manager at Jive Software. It's pretty common sense. Look for what's going to turn people off and really, that's profanity and photos where you're obviously inebriated.

Barker said step two is making a list of all your online profiles. If you can, login and erase unwanted content. On Facebook, un-tag your name on any photos or posts you don t want to be associated with.

For content that you don't own, figure out who does, suggested Barker. If that's your friend from five years ago, you might need to give them a phone call.

Lastly, Barker suggested accentuating the positive. Pick three social media sites to pack with content and key words that showcase what you want to be known for. If it's still available, claim your domain name.

So,, you'll be able to build what you want your personal brand to be and have that rank higher than those unsightly photos you just can't get rid of, said Barker.

She added that a good rule to follow, in person and online, is to keep negative posts to a minimum.

No one likes someone who's always ranting, said Barker.

And remember, not everything you may find in your digital past, is negative.

Oh, yeah, exclaimed Payne. I won the Oregon Lottery Scholarship. I didn't know that was on there.

A number of companies offer services to clean up and monitor online activity. There are also free apps and software that scan your content for key words.

Barker said before spending your money, do the research.

If they offer to clean everything negative about you off the internet, that's probably not a legitimate service, she said.


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