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How to erase `damaging` online mistakes

india Updated: Aug 01, 2012 17:56 IST

Your gaffe becomes part of "your permanent record", an author has revealed.

Matt Ivester's book 'lol...OMG!' tells college students and others how to undo or to avoid making mistakes they may later regret-embarrassments, that do permanent damage their employment prospects.

According to Ivester, anyone trying to do damage control should consider following a few easy steps, ABC News reported.

Firstly, take inventory of yourself - you have to know what's out there before you can start fixing it. Google yourself and see what comes up. Do the same with Yahoo!, Bing and other popular search engines.

After you've inventoried what strike you as the trouble spots, ask a friend to go through the same exercise as he may see things you've missed.

Secondly, clean up content you control - go through the online content you control and remove from it anything you no longer want to share or that strikes you as newly dangerous or inappropriate.

Cleanse your blog, Twitter stream and Facebook page. Where you find potential time-bombs in content you do not control, contact the owners and politely ask them please to remove it.

Thirdly, create new positive content - if you can't expunge everything that's old and negative, says Bryce Tom, CEO of Metal Rabbit Media, the next best thing is to do is overwhelm and suppress it by creating new, positive content. The new material will show up higher in search results for your name.

Fourthly, prune your friends - be sure you know what's public and what's private on the sites you use, says Ivester. On Facebook, prune questionable friends. Organize remaining ones into groups, according to their trustworthiness or their area of interest.

Doing this presents an opportunity to re-think what you're comfortable sharing online, whom you trust and whom you don't.

Fifthly, hire a professional scrubber - depending on how many gaffes you've committed, you can turn the problem over to a professional.

Lastly, hire a PR professional so that when unflattering or embarrassing information about a client appears there, he can attempt to persuade them to alter or remove it.