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Colleges Help Students Fix Their Online Indiscretions 189

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-going-to-see-this dept.
A growing number of colleges are providing graduating students tools to improve their online image. The services arrange for positive results on search engine inquiries by pushing your party pictures, and other snapshots of your lapsed judgement off the first page. Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins are among the schools that are offering such services free of charge. From the article: "Samantha Grossman wasn't always thrilled with the impression that emerged when people Googled her name. 'It wasn't anything too horrible,' she said. 'I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren't of me, things I wouldn't want associated with me.' So before she graduated from Syracuse University last spring, the school provided her with a tool that allowed her to put her best Web foot forward. Now when people Google her, they go straight to a positive image — professional photo, cum laude degree and credentials — that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York."
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Colleges Help Students Fix Their Online Indiscretions

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  • I don't know what she's talking about. First thing I see if that evil Newton killer's image.
  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:21PM (#42450815) Homepage

    Facebook is one example of a site that has a crappy policy that only allows you to have one profile. It makes sense to have two social media profiles, one for your personal life which you share with friends, post your party pictures and aren't afraid to write whatever you want, and one for your professional life, where you add coworkers and talk about work.

    Yet Facebook and other sites are forbidding this, making people put everything in one pot. It's becoming more difficult to separate your personal life from your professional life these days. Stupid real name policies and pervasive connection of everything to everything else is a curse.

    We need a push towards policies that make it easy for people to keep personal and work lives separate. It's common sense.

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:36PM (#42450987)

      Facebook is one example of a site that has a crappy policy that only allows you to have one profile. It makes sense to have two social media profiles, one for your personal life which you share with friends, post your party pictures and aren't afraid to write whatever you want, and one for your professional life, where you add coworkers and talk about work.

      Maybe Facebook could let you organize your social media contacts into different "circles" and let you share content based on which "circle" a person in. They could keep the membership of those "circles" private so no one knows which circle they are in or who else in in that circle.

      Someone should start a social media site like that! [google.com] It's sure to be a Facebook killer.

      • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:09PM (#42451345) Homepage

        Maybe Facebook could let you organize your social media contacts into different "lists" and let you share content based on which "list" a person in. They could keep the membership of those "lists" private so no one knows which circle they are in or who else in in that circle.

        Oh wait. It does.

      • That doesn't help with publically accessible material that gets indexed by Google. Secondly, Facebook does have that sort of functionality and it had it before Google. The only thing google did was simplify things to give potential users the impression they care about your privacy, which, imo, is a bit of a joke.
        • by hawguy (1600213)

          That doesn't help with publically accessible material that gets indexed by Google. Secondly, Facebook does have that sort of functionality and it had it before Google. The only thing google did was simplify things to give potential users the impression they care about your privacy, which, imo, is a bit of a joke.

          Well, yeah, if you make your data available to the public (if Google's search engine indexes it, it's available to the world), then your data is available to the public. No technology is going to help you with that - if you don't want it public, don't make it public. Facebook does have a way of making pictures of you public without your permission by letting others tag you in photos, but I think there's a setting to prevent that. Not sure if Google has the same functionality.

          I thought the problem the GP was

          • Facebook does have a way of making pictures of you public without your permission by letting others tag you in photos, but I think there's a setting to prevent that.

            Please share. I'm a noob and I can't find it.

          • Since it sounds like it's basically a SEO service I made the assumption it's about publically available data. But you are right about data leak. I assume if you make it available to friends and their account is wide open then you're in trouble but I'm not sure you can do much about that without asking friends to change their settings.

            I think there are some questions about that on both facebook and google plus which is why I don't use my real name and don't talk about personsal things.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          The only thing google did was simplify things to give potential users the impression they care about your privacy, which, imo, is a bit of a joke.

          As Zuckerberg's own sister found out.

          I think it's hilarious that something of hers went public.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            The only thing google did was simplify things to give potential users the impression they care about your privacy, which, imo, is a bit of a joke.

            As Zuckerberg's own sister found out.

            I think it's hilarious that something of hers went public.

            No, hers was a perfect example of an axiom that old greybeards have long known - if you don't want it known to the world, don't post it online.

            The axiom holds through "privacy" controls as well - which Facebook created to encourage people to post online personal stuff. A

          • That was great how she got so upset over it. Typical though, they think everyone should follow different rules to them.
      • by xelah (176252)
        There should, of course, be nine circles. One for your sex life, one about money, one where you put all your rants, one for all things heretical, etc. Hmm, which one is it where everyone has to be doused in faeces? Oh, and of course Mark Zuckerberg himself will be in the centre of the ninth.
        • by hawguy (1600213)

          There should, of course, be nine circles. One for your sex life, one about money, one where you put all your rants, one for all things heretical, etc. Hmm, which one is it where everyone has to be doused in faeces? Oh, and of course Mark Zuckerberg himself will be in the centre of the ninth.

          That circle is the intersection of your "girl" circle and "cup" circle.

        • This should be rated "Funny" as the Comedy is Divine!
    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:00PM (#42451209) Journal

      There is a cure for that...

      Use Facebook for all your personal crap, and LinkedIn for all your professional crap.

      Or, just tell Facebook to go /sbin/fsck themselves and create two accounts anyway (one is accessed via Chrome, the other via Firefox, or whatever).

    • Except that's not the issue. There are plenty of sites that are "just work" equivalents of Facebook, or else have potential to be, like LinkedIn, or more focused ones like ResearchGate or CiteULike. But employers DEMAND access to the personal stuff. Otherwise there would be no problem: If an employer found a picture of you drinking or partying, then they would know to simply not take that into consideration. However, the issue is not that they do so, but it still subliminally affects them, but that they act
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Perhaps you're looking for a feature like lists [facebook.com].

    • by Bengie (1121981)
      G+ lets me choose who gets to see what. Kind of nice. I can even preview as if I am another person to see what all they get to see.
    • by cashman73 (855518)
      I use Facebook [facebook.com] for personal stuff, and LinkedIn [linkedin.com] for professional and job-related stuff. Both are separate.
    • So instead of complaining about not doing two things in one place (which might make it easier for someone to find both profiles swirling around, and let fbook know both your jekyll an d hyde personas), have it be that Facebook is one of your two or more social media profiles.
      :>)
      At my school, Facebook is what your parents are on, so your profile on Facebook is the clean parentally approvable appearance of life: what you show to your parents may not be what you show to your friends on other networks or t
  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:25PM (#42450863)
    I just keep my personal info completely off anything public on the internet. Tada, zero results (other than whitepages-style listings for people who aren't me). I don't have a Facebook account, my Google account has a fake name, etc. What a coincidence, I don't have problems like this.
    • by Psyborgue (699890) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:31PM (#42450927) Homepage Journal
      That wouldn't solve her problem, which is that somebody with her exact name had been a very bad girl online. In that case, it makes sense to create a "clean" persona and attempt to push that to the top.
      • by daem0n1x (748565)

        When I google my name I can't find anything about myself. But there's an arty photographer with the same name as me, so I get a lot of hot naked women pictures.

        If some paranoid prospective employer tries to google me, he's in for a surprise :-)

        • by Geeky (90998)

          I take arty (yes, that kind of arty) pictures as a hobby. Luckily my name is quite common, so a google search turns up loads of other people with the same name, so I'd be quite hard to track down even though I publish under my own name (to be honest, I'm at a stage in my career when if someone doesn't want to employ me because of my hobbies, I don't want to work for them).

        • When I google my real name, I get several Facebook pages, and at least one LinkedIn that aren't me. I have to go to the second page to find a stupid question on some tech list that, er wait I didn't write that question!

      • My real name is Michael Moore and I'm not the film maker.

        I don't know how many pages you'd have to go through to get to a page that's actually about me.

        • by Psyborgue (699890)
          I share a name with a celebrity so i'm in the same situation. Unless you know my nick, you don't find me. If you do, you can probably find quite a bit, but i'm careful to make sure no employers or clients know my nick. I keep an alternate email and so forth for that.
      • Maybe Evil Sharon likes her online persona. Why should she get bumped down the rankings?
        • by Psyborgue (699890)
          Hey. She can play the same game if she really wants to that much. Somehow I don't think it's likely. Until HR people can grow brains and stop disqualifying people for stupid shit, this sort of SEO assholery is going to be necessary.
    • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:32PM (#42450939)

      Though some tech jobs might look down at not having a web presence. Perhaps you're out of touch with the electronic world? Perhaps you don't know about social apps, communities, web 2.0, whatever "buzz words" HR might look for.

      I'm not saying it's true, just that it could be perceived as true by the HR guys that filter the resumes before they get sent to the department. While other people might look favorably on that for a candidate: security conscious and what-not.

      It reminds of a job I applied for, I knew the person hiring (not an underling, the flippin' manager). He said for legal reasons I had to submit my resume through their official channels but once it got to his department he'd help me out. A few weeks go by and he asks why I didn't follow up with the job, I told him I did. He was puzzled, and came back to me later -- the HR department weeded mine out because I "only" had X years experience with .Net. They were weeding out people who didn't have Y+ years experience with .Net... which was "awesome" because they wanted 10+ years with .Net and it had only officially been out for a couple.

      He was not happy (nor was I).

    • Well, it's about cost-benefit analysis, isn't it? For you, the liabilities of exposing yourself on the Web outweigh the benefits. Not true for others. Then, there's the group that doesn't understand either, but that's their problem...

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:28PM (#42450895)
    "... that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York." Her first task: get herself and her company some Slashdot hits.
    • by codegen (103601)
      I know this is slashdot, and people don't want to read the article, the company that she got a job with is not mentioned in the article. She is just profiled as one of the students using the reputation cleanup service provided by the University. This is in fact a University pushed story since it is college application time, to advertise one of the fringe benefits of the University. The company mentioned was actually created by three of the University Alumni.
    • You know that all us lowlife /.ers are Googling her name. Soon to rival Nathalie Portman!!!

  • Positive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@carp a n e t . net> on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:28PM (#42450903) Homepage

    So we define positive in terms of social stigma? God forbid you would be associated with having some social accumen and having a good time. Its always a negative to find out someone has ever been to a party with alcohol.

    I don't see whats so negative.... some people could hold anything against you. Do you really want to work for/with such people?

    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      Indeed. Depending on the kind of person you are and who you wish to work for, it might be of benefit to have a slightly "dirty" online persona to weed out the prudes.
    • Re:Positive? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:23PM (#42451565)

      You are confusing your utopian vision with the real world. How people should judge others is unimportant. How they *do* judge others is. So long as potential employers are judging you, you would do well to play the game and act like the most professional and dull person in the world. Unless you enjoy going back to your parents and begging to be allowed to live in the basement again.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        However its a feedback loop of social acceptability. Not too many years back, you wouldn't o to work without a suit on in many professions, thats changed. In fact, I have even had people say to me, wearing cargo pants and a T-shirt, that they are "surprized I can go to work like that". What changed? Perception within the company.

        If good people hide the fact that they are real people, then they reinforce these perceptions. Every person who likes to party is betraying everyone else who likes a good party when

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          wearing cargo pants and a T-shirt, that they are "surprized I can go to work like that".
          Yeah, and what was acceptable and unacceptable has actually switched places in a couple of cases. It used to be that wearing a polo was considered fashionable and a T-shirt slovenly. Now, I have people looking down their nose at my polo and suggesting that I wear a T-Shirt instead. But of course it has to be a hip trendy T-shirt, not the the T-shirts which I actually own.
      • There are also employers who are actively looking for a defendable reason why they should instead hire some comparably qualified oppressed minority, or bring in someone from overseas.

      • by slart42 (694765)

        So long as potential employers are judging you, you would do well to play the game and act like the most professional and dull person in the world. Unless you enjoy going back to your parents and begging to be allowed to live in the basement again.

        While this is sadly true for many people, it really depends on your bargaining position. If you are good at what you do and do something which is in good demand -- meaning that you are in a position where you can be somewhat picky about which jobs you take, then this may not matter at all. If I was to be dismissed for a job I applied for on the base of some online pictures of me drinking, then that picture would have likely served a good purpose, as I probably wouldn't have liked working at that place anywa

  • by Richy_T (111409) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:30PM (#42450915) Homepage

    I just feel bad for John Goatse.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And the HR department.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      I've looked into reasons why I should feel bad about John Goatse, and have concluded that John himself cannot feel anything, physically or emotionally.
  • by mjwalshe (1680392) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:33PM (#42450957)
    This is arguably against Googles guidelines - and I have seen some dubious link directories that appear to be run the insiders in side universitys that try and leverage the high value and trust assigned to a .edu domain.
    • Agreed, I would hope Google catches onto this and stops it. People need to realise it's not only their name and people want to be able to find the other people with that name too.
      • by tompaulco (629533)
        Agreed, I would hope Google catches onto this and stops it. People need to realise it's not only their name and people want to be able to find the other people with that name too.
        Yes, for every one person looking for "Good Samantha" I can guarantee that a dozen are more interested in finding "Bad Samantha".
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:34PM (#42450965)

    Blackhat SEO is still unethical. Especially when she brags about kicking other people with the same name off the first page.

    • by bananaquackmoo (1204116) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:11PM (#42451371)
      Believe it or not this doesn't appear to be blackhat. It is SEO though, you're right about that.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        I don't have problems with creating an online presence that gets on the first page, but kicking out everybody else from it is definitely not fair play.

        • by Kergan (780543)

          It's hardly difficult to do, you know... and whoever you kicked off of the front page can readily jump back onto it if he or she desires. Methinks it's fair play. If anything, Google should be the target of your disapproval, for clustering results more than they should be, or showing potentially embarrassing results to computers that google full names all day long. (In fact, I'm actually surprised that no US citizen has tried to sue Google over it yet.)

          At any rate, the trick is to simply create a couple of

          • by tompaulco (629533)
            It's hardly difficult to do, you know... and whoever you kicked off of the front page can readily jump back onto it if he or she desires. Methinks it's fair play.
            Fair play says you. Race to the bottom, says I.
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        rather dark Grey in my opinion though it depends on the eye of the beholder and the Mighty Google tends to apply the "black" term to what they see fit. But take the example of a doctor who is struck off for negligence certainly suppressing that information is not in the public good
    • It's an advertisement for . They claim to use SEO techniques which are "white hat", but of course any SEO techniques that attempt to game google results tend to piss off Google, meaning that there's no such thing as "white hat" as far as Google is concerned.

      Like most SEOs, this will get you good results for a short while until the back end comparison is made on Googles end to show graph deltas over time, and there's a huge shift in geometry on the particular search tems. At that point, the results she wan

  • Of all Samanthas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:34PM (#42450977)

    It wasn't anything too horrible, Samantha Grossman said. I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren't of me, things I wouldn't want associated with me.

    So, how is this Samantha Grossman's prerogative to have exactly her pictures as the top result, instead of the other Samantha Grossmans, who now fret that there are pictures there that aren't associated with them?

  • I party. People know I party. People have evidence that I party. YTF am I supposed to hide that? How about employers stop being prudes and hire humans. I can't stand the fact that the only way to make it through an interview these days is to lie and spout buzzwords. Why is corporate quick to hire squeaky-clean idiots over human beings that have had human experiences?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:15PM (#42451417)

    ...until I was about twelve years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys.
     

  • People will grow up. Society will realize that everyone does stupid shit and recognize it as part of life.

    If you can't party well, how are you going to land advertising clients?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:17PM (#42451453) Homepage

    Interesting image there.

  • I feel very fortunate for two reasons.

    1. When I started using the internet in the late 80s I was paranoid enough never to use my real name.

    2. My real name is shared with a well renowned uber geek programmer.

    About once a year new people in my life will contact me to ask me if I am "number 2"

  • There are six billion people in this world.

    A recruiter who Googles you expecting to find, well, you is a recruiter you don't want to work for.

    A recruiter who FINDS you, specifically and undeniably you, will still find you and the things you've advertised to the world online anyway. And that's just about work-life separation.

    But the person who thinks that people are Googling them and that's affecting their job prospects (without, I imagine, a shred of evidence because it's likely illegal under employment la

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