Monday, October 8, 2012

Your Online Reputation

While the rest of the world has been noshing over the first presidential debate, I've been preoccupied by two things that I doubt Romney and Obama have thought about -- at least not recently.  They probably have people taking care of it anyway.

Getty Images/Businessweek.com
The first is paying for my high-speed internet.  I subscribe to it through my local cable company which happens to be Comcast.  Once again they've left me breathless with how much they charge for high-speed internet when you are not partaking of promotional pricing.  My work demands high-speed internet.  So, last week I was spinning from the hit by Comcast.  I decided to investigate my options and that took time, both online and elsewhere.  I think I've made my decision, but I'm still open to suggestions.    

The second was a bit more disturbing.  Have you googled your name lately?  I did (my non-pen name) last week.  The results have put me in a curmudgeon mood.  It amazes me that websites can steal your information from other websites, ones you may have chosen to post your information on, and then act as if it's perfectly OK.  It's not.

Now, I'm not talking about the websites used for background checks such as Intelius.  If you want a person's information at these sites, you must pay for it.  I'm talking about websites who troll the internet and social networking websites for the information and then steal it from those sites.  It's sort of like this: I give a good friend an album of photos of me that show where I've worked, where I live, and the bio of my life.  She shelves it in wall bookshelves in her house.  Then some burglar breaks into her house, steals the photo album, and uses it to steal from me.  You see?

Then to add insult to injury, the information the website posts is grossly out of date or just plain wrong.  That information is now connected to my name online and comes up in searches.  That's how I found Yatedo(dot)com.  Based in Paris, France allegedly, this website is an online burglar that does not care about the quality of the information they steal.  They steal it, yes, and then have the balls, if you find them, to "please verify your account."

Yatedo gives you the option to edit your information.  I skipped that option and went directly to the option of deleting my profile from the site.  In the instructions for deletion (which were clear, a surprise), you are directed to go to your social networking sites and change the settings so that your information is no longer open to the public.  This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.  For LinkedIn, the instruction was to change the public profile's setting for viewing by no one instead of everyone.  I followed their directions.

Back at Yatedo, I continued the process of deleting my profile until I reached a window that asked me to verify my LinkedIn account.  When I clicked on it, nothing happened.  Of course not!  My LinkedIn account was no longer open to the public and they could not link to it.  The problem is, in order to proceed to the final step of deleting your profile, you must verify your LinkedIn account.  Why?  I'm deleting my profile!!  Well, it's a catch-22 that is designed to prevent people from deleting their profiles.

Stockphoto.com/Dave Pilibosian
I sent Yatedo an angry e-mail, asking them to delete my profile.  They had not asked my permission to publish the information online.  They had published outdated and false material.  Of course, I posted my woe on Facebook.  Tech-savvy friends showed me that this website is a phisher.  They want your personal information for untrustworthy and probably illegal purposes.  It surprised me that the French, who are such sticklers about personal privacy, have not taken these guys to court, slapped them with a huge fine and locked them up in prison.  But I suppose no one really knows they're there and those who do just want to get their info off the site.

Yes, I received a reply from Yatedo.  It was a form letter that just repeated the instructions on their website for editing or deleting profiles.

So, I joined Reputation(dot)com.  I'll let them deal with it.....

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