Manage your newest asset: your online ID

By Amelia Ross, producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Social networking comes with a price -- and that price is control of your online reputation. Make bad decisions, and it could affect your ability to get a job, a promotion, a bank loan or even a favorable divorce settlement.

It's not really free to set up a Facebook account. The same holds with your Twitter account. Or Blippy.com. Or any number of other social networking sites. The price is the information about you. What you post, what your friends post on your wall, where geo tagging of photos places you at a given time, your searches, and your purchases -- it all becomes available for data mining.

Current employers, potential employers, banks and even lawyers are getting smarter about using behavioral information gathered from social networking sites. And despite improved privacy options, government guidelines and regulations, your ability to control what is known about you is diminished.

"It's impossible to get posts and photos back once they are out there," said Ondrej Khrehei, information security officer at ID Theft 911.

Whatever information you have put out there is discoverable. Privacy settings are not good enough barriers. Even if you turned on your Facebook higher privacy setting, your activity prior to the switch in privacy is archived by search engines.

"Social networking is the best thing that ever happened to divorce lawyers," said Adam Levin, chairman and co-founder of Credit.com. "And without a doubt banks are looking at this too, although no one will admit it."

While your credit score is still key to getting a bank loan, your online identity could be a possible benefit or barrier to that loan.

"Just because you spent $500 at Amazon doesn't mean your will be loan denied, but some online activity could have a make or break element," said Jacob Jegher, senior analyst at Celent, a financial services research firm. "Tweeting about losing your job might be filtered out of all the social networking noise."

Your online presence is even more important to your career. Certainly it's a way for potential employers to find you and determine if you are a good fit for the organization. A Microsoft survey showed that 75% of employers have looked at social media technology when evaluating a job applicant and 70% have rejected an applicant or failed to promote an employee because of what's online.

What you can do to secure your online identity:

  • Set your privacy settings and check them periodically.
  • Check and see if you have been tagged in a photo.
  • Be careful about over posting; data mining is pervasive.
  • Be aware that participating in online quizzes could make your personal data available to data mining.
  • Be mindful of putting your personal data on a startup site that may not have its security and privacy settings well established.

Talkback: Have you recently upped your online privacy settings? If so, why? To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.36%4.24%
15 yr fixed3.39%3.26%
5/1 ARM3.36%3.27%
30 yr refi4.34%4.22%
15 yr refi3.38%3.24%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,095.52 9.29 0.23%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
Treasuries 2.72 0.08 3.19%
Data as of 6:41pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.15 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 58.94 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 26.56 0.00 0.00%
Cisco Systems Inc 23.19 -0.02 -0.09%
Micron Technology In... 23.91 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Apr 17

Sections

General Mills has scrapped a controversial change to its fine print that some read as eliminating customers' right to sue the company. More

Obamacare sign ups hit 8 million, though final enrollment remains to be seen. More

Office for iPad move is a symbolic victory for Nadella's Microsoft, but the company is still weighed down by many of the same old issues. More

Schwinn, Trek and Cannondale are all iconic American bicycle brands. But none of them are made in the United States. More

As Detroit moves closer to reaching a bankruptcy deal, retired civilian workers are poised to be left worse off than firemen and police officers. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.