Blake Lively said she was depressed after Googling herself. Here’s how you fix your online reputation.
She made her name on “Gossip Girl,” but Blake Lively really doesn’t like hearsay.
The 29-year-old actor once entered her name into a search engine and it “ended in full depression,” she says in a recent video for Variety magazine. “It’s a good rule of thumb not to Google yourself because the Internet is not nice.”
Lively’s reaction may be severe, but she’s hardly the first person to be upset by a series of negative Google hits. Beverly Hills psychotherapist Fran Walfish has seen couples that squabble over finding a photograph of their partner at a strip club to young adults emotionally scarred from images of their chubby childhood uploaded by their relatives. There’s also the risk of a prospective employer coming across something negative and untrue.
“People come to me in deep trouble from things they’ve found,” says the author of “The Self-Aware Parent.” “There’s a ton out there that can be toxic.”
The European Court of Justice has ruled that there’s a controversial “right to be forgotten” on that continent, but it’s difficult to scrub your digital existence. “There are ways if content violates a web host’s policy, but it’s not often successful,” says Joseph Torrillo, vice president at Reputation Management. “It’s a very labor intensive and drawn-out process.”
There are however, smarter methods if you can live with having some negative stuff out there. “If you can’t get rid, dilute,” says Don Sorensen, a reputation manager at Big Blue Robot. Contrary to what some think, not having an active web presence of your own is not savvy. “When Google can’t find anything, bad news is all it’s going to show,” he says.
The first thing you should do is buy your domain name and set up biographical pages on platforms like About.me, which Google’s search algorithm regards pretty well. This means you control what your name is associated with.
There are also ways to convince the search giant to move the pages you’d like others to find higher up. Sorensen carried out an experiment with the goal of moving an article he wrote to the first page of that search engine by linking to it on his LinkedIn profile and regularly tweeting the URL. It took about three months for Google to promote the piece.
Photos are a little trickier. As opposed to the one headshot that people often share across Twitter, and LinkedIn, have a variety out there. Post them on sites like Flickr and Google Photos, and make sure they’re tagged with your name, says Sorensen.
If you’re upset but can’t be bothered to go through the hassle of playing Google at its game, teach yourself to live with it. For some people “reading something about themselves is an invitation to pick up a judge’s hammer and pound themselves,” says Walfish, the psychotherapist. “They need to develop a stronger barrier to shut out negative influences so it doesn’t impact one’s core ego.”
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