The New York Times takes a look at online reputations and how people attempt to control how they are presented on the Internet:
As more of our social lives, shopping sprees and dating misadventures take place online, we leave behind, purposely or not, a growing supply of personal information. Marketers, employers, suitors and even thieves and stalkers are piecing together mosaics of who we are. Even when it is accurate, it may not present a pretty picture.
For a glimpse of your mosaic, type your name into Spokeo.com. Prepare to see estimates of your age, home value, marital status, phone number and your home address, even a photo of your front door. Spokeo, one of several services like this online, will encourage you to pay $15 or more, for a full report with details on income, hobbies and online social networks. […]
Many privacy experts worry that companies will use this data against users, perhaps to deny insurance coverage or assign a higher interest rate on a loan. […]
If you want to try to manage privacy, the obvious first place to start is with the search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo, exactly where other people will most likely go to check you out. Run keyword searches of your name, address, phone numbers and other identifying data and see what turns up. Don’t stop after the first few pages of search results. […]
Also look for online accounts you opened but don’t use anymore, especially on social networks or dating sites where you would have provided extensive personal information. Not only can people dig up details, as the Mashable blog recently did when it posted what appeared to be information about the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s online dating life, but the site you entrusted data to could change its privacy practices or be acquired by a company with different policies.
If you’re daunted by this research job, there are companies willing to do the work for you. […]
Many sites, including Google and news outlets, are in the information business and may be unwilling to remove [your data], especially if it’s truthful. If they won’t act, experts suggest creating more good content about yourself, like starting a LinkedIn profile and a personal blog, to push down the bad to the third or fourth search results screen where few people bother to look.