Scrubbing your Online Profile
Why you should clear your profileWhen someone is cast into a reality show, they are usually prepared for the mass attention that will be directed towards them. Most people are able to live their life without a lot of scrutiny in what the write on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. There are simply so many people who use the sites that the average person just doesn’t draw a lot of attention for normal usage.
This all changes when someone is cast on a season long reality show like Survivor, Big Brother or Bachelor. The contestants on these show become household names that will immediately draw the searches from curious people. This attention can be incredibly harmful to the contestant if someone finds comments that could be considered racist, sexist or otherwise politically incorrect. There are many news sites that prey on this type of information and sensationalize the facts turning contestants into near hated public figures. Contestants have lost their job and relationships due to information being taken out of context.
If you are going to be appearing on a reality show, we highly encourage you to spend about an hour sanitizing your online profile before you even leave for the shooting of the series.
Write Down Your AccountsThe first step is to create a list whether it’s in excel or simply on a regular sheet of paper listing each site that you use including:
Also check for profiles for niche sites that you may have registered for that can easily be tracked back to you. There will be people looking into this and a great example is someone allegedly digging up Ronda Rousey’s pokemon forum profile she wrote when she was 14. There was nothing damning in her profile, but it made headlines and had literally thousands of people read over something she had entered years earlier.
Remove Any Controversial Posts/TweetsOnce you have your list of sites that you’ve used, then you should go through them one by one reviewing everything you’ve written that could be construed as negative. A comment made to a friend in jest or as part of an inside joke, could be taken completely out of context. Additionally, a completely innocent post could be pulled from context and displayed to help sensationalize a growing news story. This is a place that’s its far better just to air on the safe side and expect that someone will be scouring your online profile for any dirt that can be dug up on you.
Delete Embarrassing PhotosSimilar to removing written content, you should look at all the images that you have uploaded or been tagged in. I would highly recommend deleting anything that could be considered embarrassing or controversial. The items can be saved on a local computer or stored on the cloud privately, but you want to make it as hard as possible to find anything that could be used negatively. Once your time in the spotlight has passed, you can consider adding them, but while on the show and directly after you are going to be far better off to only have simple vanilla photos available.
Require Approval for UpdatesOnce you’ve removed any images and posts that could lead to trouble for you, you will want to put on the highest settings for your respective profiles. People have been known to “tag” others in videos or stories even when they were not there. By requiring approval before anything is posted on your wall or appears in your stream, you keep all the power to ensure you are presenting a professional face.
Check Google/Bing ResultsThe next item is a bit harder to fix. You will want to enter search for your name in the search engines to monitor the results. If you find something damning, you may want to consider contacting a reputation fixing company. These services can be rather costly used long-term, but if you need to clean this for the show, it’ll be far worth the few hundred dollar price tag.
Similarly, if you find images of yourself listed on the site then you can contact the site owner and ask that they be removed. You can usually be polite explaining that you are the subject that appears in the photo, and that you would prefer it removed. Explain that you did not sign a model release for the image and therefore have rights on the image. While I have not needed to take it to the level of contacting legal counsel, sending a demand letter is usually enough to get an unapproved image removed from the site.