Protecting Your Online Persona
1. Don't post anything on social networking sites (like MySpace or Facebook) that you wouldn't want a prospective employer to see. Derogatory comments, revealing or risqué photos, foul language and lewd jokes all will be viewed as a reflection of your character.
2. If your network offers the option, consider setting your profile to "private," making it viewable only by selected friends. Since you can't control what other people say on your site, consider using the "block comments" feature.
3. Check your profile regularly to see what comments have been posted. Use a search engine to look for online records of yourself to see what is out there about you. If you find information you think could be detrimental to your candidacy or career, see about getting it removed.
Two Yale Law School students have filed a defamation lawsuit prompted by a series of anonymous online postings about them on a popular law school discussion board called AutoAdmit.
The two female plaintiffs say the offensive comments and threats, which come up in Google searches, damaged their reputations. One of the plaintiffs alleges that the comments may have cost her a summer job at a law firm.
The suit accuses the AutoAdmit moderator at the time, Anthony Ciolli, of defamation; it seeks more than $200,000 in punitive damages and demands that the online attacks be removed from the site.
But under U.S. Internet law, people generally cannot be held liable for something someone else writes on their Web site. The posters themselves could be held liable, provided authorities are able to identify them.
AutoAdmit founder Jarret Cohen says he deplores the attacks on the women but insists that deleting posts is a slippery slope that could lead to broad censorship.