With social media prenups on the rise, Simon looks at the potential risk of social media, and offers advice about how to protect your personal reputation online.
When it comes to social media it is often our nearest and dearest who are the most likely to upset or offend us online. It is hardly surprising then that social media prenuptials are the latest in a growing obsession to protect our personal reputations online.
According to an article in the Daily Mail there has been a ‘rise in contracts banning couples from sharing embarrassing posts’. Apparently, couples are introducing clauses into their prenuptial agreements, which penalise against posting ‘nude or embarrassing photos that might harm their significant other’s reputation’. In the US, some couples are reported to be already ‘paying up to $50,000, [that’s nearly £30,000)] each time they break the clause’.
A prenuptial agreement is sometimes entered into by couples before they marry. It commonly relates to the ownership of their respective assets should the marriage fail. Electronic media and social networks are fast becoming recognised as assets in their own right. People are really starting to think about how much worth these hold, and conversely how much risk they pose if they are not managed correctly.
In 2012, Divorce Online carried out a study, which looked at just how detrimental Facebook could be to a relationship. It indicated that Facebook was mentioned in ‘a third of behaviour petitions’.
While, according the US media network CBS, a study conducted in 2010 revealed that ‘more than 80% of divorce attorneys say they saw a rise in the use of social networking evidence in their trials.’
Statistics such as these demonstrate that people need to get wise to the risks of sharing so much information about their personal lives online. Individuals are opening themselves up to risk if they do not protect themselves, or monitor exactly what is being said about them online, especially if they are regular users of social media networks.
Introducing a clause into your prenuptial agreement is a relatively straightforward way to protect yourself and your online reputation. But how else should you be protecting yourself from reputational damage? And what should you be doing to minimise the effects of social media posts that you have no control over?
Here are some suggestions that will help you to both protect and promote yourself online:
• All of the major social media profile sites can be set to control both who views the content, and who has the ability to post onto your profiles. Having an open profile on Facebook may gain you more friends, but also can leave you open to negative comments. Check the privacy settings on all of your social profiles if you would rather limit the number of people posting to your profiles.
• Be responsible – remember Tweets and Facebook posts have the potential to cause an individual irrevocable damage to your own, and others’ reputation online. Tweets are sent in an instant but have the potential to cause a lifetime of regret – so think before you post.
• Control what your online profile says about you by keeping your social media sites up-to-date. You can do this by regularly Tweeting or posting on Facebook, updating your LinkedIn account and circulating blog posts on Google+. Do make sure you own the accounts on the main social networks, for your name, even if you are not using them.
• Privacy legislation in the UK helps protect individuals from trying to keep confidential information out of the public domain. If you find yourself in a position where confidential personal or defamatory information has been posted about you, without your consent, you may be protected under the Right to be Forgotten ruling, and be entitled to have any links to this information on the Internet removed.
• If you are particularly worried about what people are saying about you online, monitor search results for your own name by setting up Google Alerts that notify you when your name is included in content online.
• Where negative content exists, contact the websites directly if the content is defamatory or untrue. Use the Google Removal Tool which can remove negative content from the search results. Google will only do this where the content is clearly defamatory, of an adult nature or through legal procedures.
• If you are facing negative content, fight the negative content with new content. Start a blog and write articles about subjects that you are interested in or that complement your career and work. Use social media and ensure your assets rank for your own name.
• Be careful what you sign up to, and always read the Terms and Conditions before you sign up to anything on the Internet.
Igniyte builds online reputation for individuals, companies and brands. We help to challenge negative content for you where appropriate, and we create and promote positive content about you in Google, so that your online profile dominates page one.
If you would like to find out more about how to manage your personal reputation online, download a copy of A Guide to Managing Your Personal Reputation Online. The e-book is available free to download from the Igniyte website.
Alternatively if you would like to discuss an online issue in person, do get in touch, for a confidential consultation.