Whether we realise it or not, we’ve continually left breadcrumbs of our personal lives across our social media accounts that have most likely been scraped, collected, and collated—all with the express purpose of creating highly accurate profiles to better sell us products.
The scariest part? All of this data is available for purchase—and more often than not, it’s not that expensive.
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There are numerous ways to protect your privacy and manage what companies know about you (scroll to the end of this article), but if you’re serious about controlling the flow of information, you could consider paying for reputation management services, also known as social ORM (online reputation management).
What is reputation management?
Reputation management refers to the practice of managing an individual or organization’s image. This can be achieved through monitoring and adjustment/removal of public-facing messaging like social media posts. Other methods include mugshot and arrest record cover-up, removal of customer feedback/reviews, or manipulation of search engine page results.
While reputation management is more frequently associated with celebrities or high-profile executives, the services can also benefit regular people looking to have their existing publicly available information audited, monitored, and selectively curated.
5 online reputation management (ORM) services
In no particular order, here are some of the most well-known reputation management services, how they work, and how much they cost.
DeleteMe removes personal information that has been exposed by data brokers—entities that collect and sell personal data online
Services: Once you submit what type of information you’d like examined, DeleteMe will compile a report of exactly what information is out there and discuss the next steps with you. From here, your personal information will be monitored and deleted every three months.
- 1x person @ 129 USD/year or 209 USD/2 years
- 2x people @ 229 USD/year or 349 USD/2 years
- Family of up to 4x people @ 329 USD/year or 499 USD/2 years
OneRep removes your personal information from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
Services: OneRep will research any instances of your information in the wild, send opt-out requests on your behalf, verify that said requests have been actioned, and continually monitor and reappearances of your information.
- 1x person @ 14.95 USD/month or 99.95 USD/year
- Family of up to 6x people @ 27.95 USD/month or 179.95 USD/year
ReputationDefender provides clients with options for either user software or managed services to monitor and maintain how they are perceived online.
Services: ReputationDefender offers four categories of services: search result monitoring, digital privacy, online review management, and corporate/executive level consultation.
- Packages range from 3,000 USD to 25,000 USD
One of the oldest offerings in this space, BrandYourself began when its co-founder discovered they shared the same name with a criminal, thus tainting search results of his name.
Services: BrandYourself offers four categories of services: search result monitoring, social media cleanup, privacy protection, and personal branding management.
- DIY software have a free and premium offering, with the latter costing 99 USD/year
- Managed services start at 599 USD/year
Kanary actively monitors hundreds of sites for personal information or mentions of its clients.
Services: Like DeleteMe and OneRep, clients submit their information for Kanary to research. Once gathered, Kanary will remove and continually monitor for reappearances.
- 9.99 USD/month
Other ways to control your personal information
There are, of course, ways you can begin protecting your information and public image without the need of a reputation manager. You can always start protecting yourself immediately by changing your settings in the apps and services you use. This can include: Chrome extensions, Facebook, Messenger, Find my iPhone, Safari, Gmail, Google History, Google Photos, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram, TikTok, Twitter, WhatsApp, Tinder, and Dropbox. In the case of your browsing habits, opt for a browser that is privacy and security focused—also keeping in mind that incognito browsing modes aren’t exactly that private.
If you must maintain correspondence with friends, family, or colleagues—and you can’t avoid certain apps or services—consider maintaining alternate online accounts with absolutely minimal personal or pseudonymous data. If any pictures of you are going up online, take care to remove any possible identifying data. If you’re getting a new phone number, take care to ensure that any services tied to said number are eliminated. Last, but not least, take care to opt out of various forms of online marketing by protecting against cookies and trackers, signing up for do not call registries, and taking care to avoid spam.
If all else fails, at least you can plan for protecting your data once you expire.