Until about ten years ago a private person -- then the norm -- could have no presence on the world wide web and this would not be a problem. People using search engines would not be specially surprised if they searched for a person and found nothing. But today this doesn't happen. Having a digital footprint has become more common than not so a lack of presence is interpreted differently. Even worse: the rise of content scrapers and fake profiles have undermined the option of opting out of the world wide web and social media. And the shift towards online presence being the norm means that a missing presence creates uncertainty.
Content Scraper Profiles: At one time if you didn't create any online profiles yourself then a Google search would not find any. This no longer happens because of the rise of bottom feeding content scraper sites that gather information from publicly available data, email lists and other sources to generate profiles in your name. Most people never see these profiles because Google ranks them at the very bottom, beyond the last search page you would normally look at. When someone has created no genuine profiles these scraped profiles rise to the top. What this means is that like it or not you will have some sort of online profile, but if you didn't make it yourself the ones that appear will be out of date, inaccurate and irrelevant. For example, just from the email address email@example.com a content scraper could recover first name, last name, name of employer, their contact details from the domain records and much more.
Fake Profiles for Scams/jokes: Another risk of not having a real profile online is that scammers and jokers might fill the void with their own fake profiles. If I search for someone and see two profiles I will try to find out which is real. If I find just one I am more likely to believe it. Scammers sometimes set up fake LinkedIn profiles for people who don't have one. They use these profiles to get the trust of others and gain access to private information. Jokers might also be tempted to fill the gap with a joke profile. In the absence of a real profile it is harder to tell which are real and which not.
Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt: The other reason why not having an online presence is a bad idea is that it creates fear, uncertainty and doubt. If a potential employer discovers that someone has no online presence this could mean that they are a very private person. But it could also mean that they have poor computer skills or are out of touch. This absence of any information creates some doubt in the mind of other people and means that people with no presence will always have a disadvantage when compared with people who do have a presence.
There is one simple and certain countermeasure for all of these risks and that is to create at least a basic profile on LinkedIn and Facebook. You don't need to be an active user but at least keep your basic profile information and photo up to date. Creating a few other profiles on top social sites helps to protect your reputation in other ways but this is at least a good start.
Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing
For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about reputation management, digital marketing, social media and other communication topics contact Andrew Hennigan on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org