Are You Aware of Your “Online Reputation”…?


Are you aware of your Digital Footprint, Web Identity and Online Reputation…?

Many years ago – I had an interesting discussion with a fellow writer/author turned Blogger at a Literary Festival.

She asked me:

“Is it important to be active on the internet – especially on the social media…?” 

I said to her:


You must be active on the internet and social media – because – your “online reputation” depends on your engagement on internet and social media.

Also – if you don’t take charge of your “online reputation” – then someone else will…”

My friend wanted me to explain in detail.

Since we were talking on our mobile cellphones – I told her that I had written a blog post on this topic 5 years ago in the year 2013 – and – I promised her that I would update that article and post it on my blog for her and other interested readers to read.

So – here is the updated article…


Is Your “Online Reputation” Overshadowing Your “Offline Reputation”…?

Tips for Managing Your Web Identity By Vikram Karve


Soon – a time will come when:

Your “Digital” Footprint will carry more weight than what you write on your Resume or CV.

I am sure you know the meaning of the term “DIGITAL FOOTPRINT”.

Your digital footprint is the record or trail left by all the things you do online on the internet.

Your Digital Footprint includes all your Social Media activity (on Social Networking Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat etc) – your Blogging and Online Writing – all information about you on the internet – on various websites – your browsing history – your online subscriptions – any photo galleries and videos you have uploaded or others have uploaded about you – essentially, anything on the Internet with your name on it.

Anything you post, tweet, comment, or “like” on a blog/social media – or what others post about you – is going down as a permanent record in cyberspace on your digital footprint.

In a nutshell – your digital footprint is everything on the internet that is about you.

Since you rarely think twice about putting things online – your digital footprint can be pretty large and extensive without you even realizing it.

Have you ever “Googled” yourself…?

An easy way to check out your digital footprint is to “Google” your own name – and you will be amazed when you see number of hits and the extensive and diverse information about you on the internet.


In today’s world you have Two Reputations:

  1. OFFLINE REPUTATION (in the physical real world)
  1. ONLINE REPUTATION (in the virtual world or cyberspace)

Unless you are a celebrity – your “offline reputation” is restricted and known to only those persons in your proximity, at work, in your social circles and personal life.

However – your “online reputation” is all pervasive – and is available for scrutiny by anyone throughout the world who has access to the internet.

If I want to know about you – all I have to do is to “google” your name or search your details on websites, search engines or social networks.

Potential employers – or prospective spouses – or those desirous of getting into a relationship with you – can easily carry out a basic background check on you by just surfing the internet.

(Earlier – before the advent of the internet – you had to ask some mutual acquaintance – or make discreet inquiries – or hire a detective to find out information about somebody)

The fact of the matter is that:

In today’s connected world – your “online reputation” is easily accessible – and – your “online reputation” matters more than your “offline reputation”.

In the same way that your “personality” (real-world offline identity) is important for your “offline reputation” – your “online identity” plays an important role in determining your “online reputation”.


Your ONLINE IDENTITY consists of two things:

  1. What you say about yourself on the internet (your “Owned Identity”)
  1. What others say about you on the internet (your “Earned Identity”)


Your OWNED IDENTITY comprises whatever information you upload on the internet.

Your owned identity will comprise so many things like:

  1. Whatever you upload on social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Quora, WhatsApp, Snapchat etc including your profiles, pictures, photos, status reports, tweets, comments – anything and everything you upload about yourself.
  1. Your Blogs
  1. Your Websites (personal, professional and company)
  1. All your writings and postings on the web which you post on the internet on various websites, online journals and e-magazines, forums, networks, groups, emails, documents, presentations – anything and everything you put on the internet.
  1. Various “profiles” and “avatars” you create on the web – like, for example, your profiles on job search sites and matrimonial sites.

To put it metaphorically – your owned identity is like when you get yourself inked with a permanent tattoo – it can never be fully erased.


Your EARNED IDENTITY is what others “say” about you on the internet.

Your earned identity includes:

  1. Information about you on Social Networking Sites like postings about you on Facebook by your friends (status, tags, pictures, photos, comments), recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn, Retweets/Mentions of your Tweets by others on Twitter etc
  1. Articles, Blog Posts, Wikis, Biographical Writings etc written about you which are available on the internet (these are things written about you by others –what you write about yourself on the internet becomes a part of your owned identity)
  1. Various “profiles” created by others about you at various places on the web.
  1. Various networks and websites that link to you
  1. Miscellaneous information about you available on the internet – for example, your examination results uploaded online by your university, education board, UPSC etc or results of job selection interviews promulgated online.

To use a metaphor – your “Earned Identity” is like “Branding” an animal – where a permanent mark is stamped on you by someone else. 


  1. YOUR OWNED IDENTITY (in Your Control) 


  1. YOUR EARNED IDENTITY (Not in Your Control)


Your “owned identity” is in your control 

You must be circumspect about what you upload on the internet.

Even a small slip-up online – like an injudicious piece of writing on your blog – an indiscreet photo – an imprudent relationship status update – or a stray remark on social networks – or a careless comment – all this has the potential of damaging your reputation in future – and may cause you harm in your real world offline life.

Remember – anything you post or upload on the internet is like a “Permanent Tattoo” – it can never be erased from cyberspace.


Your “earned identity” is not in your control 

Sometimes – your “earned identity” matters more than your “owned identity”.

This is because people may be curious to find out what others have to say about you – than what you say about yourself.

Even if you avoid the internet altogether – you cannot avoid having an “earned identity”.

This is because someone else may upload some writing or material about you on the web – especially if you are a celebrity – or remain in the news for something or the other.

That is why famous people – like ancient philosophers, politicians and writers – who lived much before the advent of internet – have “earned identities” – and consequently they have “online reputations”.

So remember – going offline and avoiding the internet is not the solution. 

Avoiding the Internet is similar to a pigeon closing its eyes to avoid seeing danger – or an “ostrich burying his head in the sand” approach.

In today’s information technology driven connected world – you cannot afford to bury your head in the sand like an ostrich – and live in denial.

You cannot avoid an online reputation.

Whether you like it or not – whether you use internet or not – you will have an online reputation.


It is in your interest to be aware of your digital footprint, web identity and online reputation – and try your best to manage these to your advantage.


Do a simple experiment.

Just “Google” your name and see the results of the search.

What are the top few results?

How many “hits” pertain to your “owned reputation”…?

How many “hits” pertain to your “earned reputation”… ?

Which “hits” appear on top and on the first page…?

If you want to manage your online reputation – you must ensure that links pertaining to “owned reputation” (what you say about yourself) appear as the top search results – as compared to “earned reputation” (what others say about you).

As far as your online reputation is concerned – what “you say about yourself” (owned reputation) – must have more prominence – than what “others say about you” (earned reputation).

Remember that your “owned identity” and “owned reputation” are in your control – because you can always control what you want to “say” about yourself on the internet.

But – your “earned identity” and “earned reputation” may not be in your full control – since you cannot control what others “say” about you on the internet.

Therefore – in a nutshell:

If you want to control your “online reputation” :

You will have to “say” more about yourself on the internet – than others “say” about you.

How do you do this…?

It is simple.

Get active on the internet – Blog regularly – Tweet vigorously – and maintain a dynamic presence on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Quora, Instagram etc and on various Forums and Groups – and make sure you network effectively.

You must be conscious of your “online reputation”.

With the proliferation of the internet:

Your “online reputation” will overshadow your “offline reputation”.

Remember – if someone wants to do a background check on you, for whatever reason – to hire you for a job – to check you out as a marriage prospect – or they just want to find out more about you – all they have to do is to “google” your name.

Then – they can ingeniously delve a bit – and explore your online identity (web shadow) – and discover your online reputation – yes – all that will matter is your online reputation.


It is imperative that you establish an effective web presence – and be proactively conscious of your digital footprint, web identity and online reputation.

You must be careful to build a good online reputation.

Once you do that – you must make constant efforts to monitor your digital footprint – and – manage your online reputation meticulously.


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These are my personal views. I am not an IT Professional or SEO Expert. I am a simple internet user, a Blogger and user of Social Networks. These tips are based on my personal experience. They may or may not work for you, so please do your own due diligence while using the internet.

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Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:

Revised and Updated Version of My Article First Posted by me Vikram Karve at 9/13/2013 05:58:00 PM (13 Sep 2013) under the title:ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT Tips for Building and Managing Your Web Identity By VIKRAM KARVE on this blog at url:  and later revised and posted online by me a number of times including at urls:  and  and  and and  and and and

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