Where Does Your Personal Information Live?

March 23, 2012

You’d be surprised to find out how much of your information is out there. Your data lives in hundreds of locations online and may even be sold without your permission. Yet, a lot of people maintain trust and feel confident when searching, buying and socializing online–believing their personal information gets lost in the sheer volume of online transactions that take place on a daily basis.

Your personal information can be found through:

  • Search people databases such as Spokeo or Intelius
  • Major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing
  • Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • The deep web – the part of the web that cannot be accessed through ordinary search engines

How does your information get there in the first place?

That’s easy. You offer it up. Consider all the things you do online: emailing, shopping, social networking, banking and many more. All of these actions require us to surrender personal and, oftentimes, financial information. It is difficult to always consider carefully where your information goes before sending it into the infinite abyss of the Internet

Here are a few pointers:

1. Check a company’s privacy policy before you sign up for their service. Is it going to sell your information to the highest bidder? If so, think twice before entering your information.

2. If a company doesn’t disclose a privacy policy, don’t provide them with any personal information.

3. Always opt-out when asked to if you are OK with sharing your information with third parties.

We face a serious trade-off between privacy and convenience. Short of never going online, it’s almost impossible to keep all personal information off of the Internet, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up online privacy all together. We just need to make more of an effort to be stingy and vigilant behind the keyboard.

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Can Your Facebook Profile Predict Job Performance?

March 13, 2012

In a recent study from Northern Illinois University, researchers found that Facebook profiles can help predict job performance and academic success. A small group of HR professionals and students were asked to review students’ Facebook profiles, grade them according to the Big Five personality traits (conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion, emotional stability and openness) and then rate their hirability. Six months later, researchers matched these ratings against employee evaluations from the students’ supervisors and found a strong correlation between the two.

“In five or 10 minutes, our raters could look at the tone of a subject’s wall post, note the number of friends they have, peruse their photos to see how social they were and assess their tastes in books and music. It’s a very rich source of information,” says Don Kluemper, lead researcher of the study.

Other major takeaways of the study include:

  • Facebook scores were a better predictor of future academic success (based upon grade point averages) than personality and IQ scores combined.
  • Facebook profiles are more authentic than personality profiles questionnaires.
  • Emotional extremes displayed on Facebook can translate to “emotionally unstable.”

What can I do to make sure my profile is the best reflection of my personality?

Reppler helps you monitor your Facebook profile, and generates an “Image Score” to evaluate the tone of the language on your wall (positive, neutral or negative). Our “Common Word” widget keeps record of the words used most often by you and your connections. Like to “vent” on Facebook? Chances are your score will indicate a higher level of emotional instability (not exactly something a potential employer wants to see). When it doubt, choose something positive to post.

Interestingly enough, however, social pictures on your profile are not always a bad thing. They indicate extroversion and friendliness. Does this mean anything goes? Certainly not. Some pictures, and you know which ones, should remain for your eyes only.

Whether we like it or not, Facebook is being used as a reliable job-screening tool. It is important to ensure that your profile is consistent with how you would like to be perceived by others, personally and professionally.


Location-Based Services Raise Privacy and Security Concerns

March 6, 2012

With apps like Foursquare and Facebook Places, you can share your whereabouts anytime, anywhere, linking yourself to real world locations. Sounds like a fun and useful feature, right? Maybe… but also potentially very dangerous!

Location-sharing services are popular features on social media sites, but they can also expose another layer of personal information that puts your security at risk. Criminals monitor Facebook and Twitter pages to secretly track their target’s location. And considering that the average home burglary takes just over 10 minutes, a quick trip to the grocery store could grant enough time for a potential break-in.

A quick Google search reveals multiple incidences of criminals using social networks and other interactive websites to target victims. Here are some simple steps to protect yourself:

  • Don’t announce that you will be out of town for trips and vacations.
  • Limit the usage of location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places.
  • Don’t share pictures that reveal your address or landmarks near your home.
  • Don’t give detailed accounts of your daily routine online.

It is also important to pay close attention to your privacy settings to ensure that you don’t “overshare” with complete strangers. Only trusted friends should be able keep track of where you are.


10 Tips to Protect Your Identity on Social Networks

February 27, 2012

Our privacy risks increase, as we are encouraged to provide more and more information online. Identity theft and fraud are some of the more serious consequences of over-sharing, yet most people do little to protect their personal information online. In fact, nearly 13 million people are accepting friend requests from strangers, particularly of the opposite sex, according to a survey by Harris Interactive in 2011.

Most recognize that no one should ever share Social Security and driver’s license numbers, but there is other, less obvious, information that can be used against you in malicious ways. Exposing the following information increases your security risk:

  • Full name (in particular your middle name)
  • Date of Birth
  • Hometown
  • Phone Numbers
  • Relationship status
  • School Location/Graduation Date
  • Pet names (popular security questions for password recovery!)
  • Travel/Vacation information

With the serious consequences of “over-sharing” in mind, we put together a Top 10 ways to protect your online privacy:

  1. Review the privacy and security policies of any third party apps (e.g. Farmville).
  2. Don’t offer up sensitive or personal information (see previous list).
  3. Only invite people you know to join your social networks.
  4. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  5. Set privacy settings to only allow friends to see your content.
  6. Never open links from someone you don’t know.
  7. Create unique passwords and user names for all social media accounts.
  8. Make sure you log out of public computers completely.
  9. Use a social media monitoring service like Reppler to help you identify potential security risks.
  10. Google yourself regularly to see what kind of information people can find about you.

Some of these tips may seem obvious, but a lot of people continue to use social networks with little concern for potential dangers. And if these don’t seem like enough, and you want to take additional steps to protect your identity, we recommend signing up for identity protection service from TrustedID to help you monitor all of your personal information.


Protect Your Professional Image on Facebook Timeline

February 10, 2012

On February 14th, Facebook Timeline will go live for ALL users, signaling a final departure from the traditional Facebook profile. Timeline is a visual aggregation of your Facebook History. From the book you read in 2005 to the movie you watched last month to the song you’re listening to right now, Timeline shares all.

Users need to recognize the risks involved with Timeline. Once you have Timeline, it reveals pictures, status updates and events chronologically from when you first started Facebooking to the present time. This means that people will be able to scroll through your history, potentially discovering posts or pictures you’d rather leave in the past.
Here are four simple steps to help you “clean” your Timeline—so you can continue to convey a positive Facebook image:

1. Make your profile private: Go to Privacy Settings > “How You Connect”. Switch “Who can post on your Timeline” and “Who can see posts by others on your Timeline?” from “Public” to “Friends”.

Go to Privacy Settings > “How Tags Work”. Switch the settings for “Maximum Timeline Visibility” from “Public” to “Friends.”

2. Limit your audience for past posts:  Go to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts”. Click “Manage Past Post Visibility”, then “Limit Old Post”. Now, your past posts are visible to your Friends only, even if you initially made them public.

3. Hide or delete posts:  Click on the edit button at the top of the content item and choose “Hide from Timeline” or “Delete Post”. You’ll need to click on each month and hide or delete all of those posts individually.

4. Delete posts from other Timelines: Go to “Activity Log”, click on “All” to see all of your posts, comments, likes and events, organized by date. Click on “Your Posts” to see all your posts and comments on other people’s Wall, and delete anything that could be considered inappropriate

5. Monitor your profile:  Use a monitoring service like Reppler to ensure that your profile always projects the “you” that everyone from your parents to your buddies to a potential employer should see. Set up your Reppler account so that you will be notified as soon as flagged content shows up on your profile.

If you’ve been on Facebook for a long time, “cleaning” your Timeline can be time consuming. But it’s well worth the effort!


TrustedID Acquires Reppler to Deliver Industry-Leading Reputation Management

February 2, 2012

We are excited to announce that TrustedID, an industry leader in identity theft protection, has welcomed Reppler into its family of services. Reppler’s advanced reputation management and protection services will strengthen TrustedID’s award-winning identity safeguards in the realm of social media.

According to the 2011 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report, identity theft remains the top consumer complaint. And in this digital age, we are constantly sharing personal information online–essentially granting outside access to this information.

In fact, with something as simple as your name, address or phone number, identity thieves can gain access to your Social Security number, credit cards, and more. At Reppler, we recognize that monitoring your online image across various social media accounts is a large part of identity protection, as users often unintentionally reveal information that pose reputation and security risks.

While integrating Reppler into TrustedID’s services marks the beginning of a new chapter for us, we want to ensure our users that your service will not stop. For now, you will receive the same service you’ve been using, and we will keep you updated about any further developments in the future. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch with us on Facebook.


Do You Know Your Audience?

October 11, 2011

On September 27, we launched a new version of Reppler with exciting new features. One of the new features is the Your Networks section of the My Networks page. Your Networks gives you a comparison of your connections across the different social networks you use. In this blog post, we will explain why this is important for managing your professional reputation.

Whether you are a student, currently employed or looking for a new job, creating and maintaining a professional online presence is more important than ever. However, in order to build that professional online presence, your have to know who you are communicating to. Who is the audience of your posts and status updates, and how would you like to be perceived by them? The abundance of social networks available on the web makes it difficult to keep track of who you added on what network. Imagine you forgot that you added your boss or coworker on Facebook, and you just posted about the long weekend in Vegas which you supposedly spent in bed with a fever, or your friends decide to post pictures of your last night out, one of your not so stellar moments.

It takes one bad judgment like that – an unflattering photo, an inappropriate comment or something more serious- and your professional reputation will take a serious hit. Also, keep in mind that the different networks show different sides of you. While Facebook zooms in on your social life and personal interests, LinkedIn emphasizes your professional accomplishments and allows you to make connections with other professionals. You may want your current employer to see your professional side on LinkedIn or Twitter, but do you really want him or her to see your party habits on the weekend?  And even if you did not add your boss to your Facebook connections, you might have added one of your coworkers who is secretly showing your employer the inappropriate content on your Wall. It is easy to lose track of all the people with whom you are sharing personal information, so there is a high risk that damaging information reaches the wrong audience.

Reppler’s new Your Network section shows how many network connections you have on each individual network, and it also displays how many connections you have across all networks combined. However, the most valuable information for users to observe is how many connections overlap within their networks. You will be able to see how many of your Facebook friends are also on your Twitter and LinkedIn network or how many of your professional contacts on LinkedIn are also connected to you on Facebook. You now know who you are communicating to, which allows you to better manage your profiles and your connections in order to maintain a professional online image. Take a look at Reppler’s Your Network section, and make sure that next time you post an update on one of your networks, you know exactly who your audience is.