TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Reputation Online

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Examine your past, present and future

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As an entrepreneur who has spent a lot of time building a positive and powerful online reputation for myself, I need to make sure I’m working alongside others who have done the same. Thanks to social media and Google, it’s quite easy to find personal and business history on nearly anyone — especially if they aren’t careful with their social media activity. I’m not the only one interested in this type of information. Now every individual and potential hire is under a magnifying glass before their employer makes any final decision.

Mark Cuban recently did an interview with Inc. on the massive transformation of digital media and how personal data is being shared at an alarming rate. The majority of this personal data is collected through social networks and shared with various applications, sites, partners and more — usually without the end user’s knowledge.

Todd William of ReputationRhino.com agrees that data is potentially putting social media users at risk: “The pressure to share on social media is intense. But oversharing has a number of unforeseen consequences, like the boss discovering you at opening day instead of taking a sick day, your kids asking about those funny-looking cigarettes or a burglar finding out you are away from home on vacation.”

It’s not just about the sharing of your data, it’s also about what data is being shared, how it’s being used and how your past updates, shares, retweets and likes could possibly come back to haunt you.

Cuban mentioned that networks are now building personal profiles for every individual out there based off the data that is already available on the web. This information is priceless to marketing companies and companies who are hiring. It is completely changing the landscape of technology and the way we live our lives in the coming months.

Re-Examining Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint is already out there, but it’s not too late to make it smaller and remove any connections or content out there that could potentially harm you down the road.

With the recent news that Google will start indexing Twitter updates within their search results, it’s now more important than ever for individuals to take control over what content they have online and not let their past social media digital footprint potentially harm them in the future.

The first step is going through your main social profiles on networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and doing a manual audit of your updates, pictures and friend relationships. A manual audit will give you an idea of the type of content you’ve put out there in the past. By cleaning it up now, you can remove it from harming you in the future. In almost all cases, there is no need to leave potentially harmful content within your social profile history. All it takes it a simple click of the delete button to remove it from your profile stream.

Another option is to make sure you have a good reputation management plan or first impression in place. When someone searches for you or your brand online, you want to make sure they are finding quality content that puts you in a good light. For example, there are hundreds of other people who share my name in the world, but I’ve done my work to make sure I rank on the first page every time you search “Zac Johnson.” I created my own site, blog, managed social profiles and highlighted my expertise on other high authority sites across the Internet.

No matter how big or small your social network and online digital footprint might be, there is no better time to start cleaning it up than today. Removing just three pieces of potentially harmful content per day equates to over 100 removals over the course of a month. Take some time to invest in your future and your online reputation.

Zac Johnson has 20 years of experience in the online marketing and business space. You can learn more about Zac athttp://zacjohnson.com and through his latest online learning course and community at http://blogging.org.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

MONEY tech stocks

3 Ways Facebook is Crushing Twitter

Alamy—© dolphfyn / Alamy

What Facebook has that Twitter wants: 1 billion more users and an advertising strategy.

Two companies are invariably mentioned in the same breath whenever the term “social media” gets thrown around: Facebook FACEBOOK INC. FB 0.14% and Twitter TWITTER INC. TWTR -5.61% .

But while both Silicon Valley giants create networks that allow you to engage with friends and celebrities, the two have less in common than you might think. That was plainly evident in both companies’ recent earnings reports.

While Facebook — which is now worth more than 10 times as much as Twitter — is still considered a story of rapid growth, Twitter is quickly losing its luster on Wall Street as it struggles to match its rival when it comes to user growth and ad revenue.

Here’s what their financial results revealed:

The Ad Gap

Facebook announced it had taken in about $3.8 billion in advertising revenue in the second quarter, up from $2.7 billion a year before — a 41% jump. And advertisers are lining up across the globe to reach Facebook users, as international ad revenue climbed to $2 billion.

Read next: What Twitter Needs to Do Next to Satisfy Investors

Yet there are still many more ways Facebook can leverage it’s popularity into future growth. For instance, Facebook’s popular photo-sharing app Instagram, with about 300 million users, and its instant communication tools Messenger (700 million users) and WhatsApp (800 million) have the potential to add meaningfully to revenue in the future.

Twitter reported some good news on the sales front too. The microblogging site surprised analysts this week with stronger-than-expected revenue growth, as ad sales jumped to $452 million from $277 million over the same period 12 months ago. This was certainly welcome news for investors who had endured a 25% drop in the company’s stock price in the first three months of this year amid disappointing revenue growth.

Still, Facebook generates twice as much sales in a quarter than Twitter does annually.

The User Gap

Facebook just has a staggering number of active monthly users. To put it in perspective, there are about 7.3 billion people in the world and about 1.5 billion of them — 21% — are on Facebook. There are roughly 213 million active users of Facebook in the U.S. and Canada out of more than 355 million people. American and Canadian users are particularly beneficial to Facebook’s bottom line, which takes in $8.63 in advertising revenue per user there compared to $2.61 worldwide.

This growth in popularity is crystallized when you look at mobile phone carriers. Those who only access Facebook through their handheld device jumped from 399 million a year ago, to 655 million now. Overall, 1.3 billion people access Facebook in the palm of their hands.

While Twitter impressed the street with its revenue numbers, the stock dropped double digits thanks to the company’s inability to significantly grow its user base. Chief financial officer Anthony Noto said in a conference call after the earnings release that it would be “a considerable time” before such growth occurred.

Twitter has 66 million monthly active users in the U.S., up from 60 million a year ago, and 250 million internationally. In other words, it is more than 1 billion users shy of playing in Facebook’s league.

The Valuation Gap

While Twitter theoretically has more room to grow than Facebook, investors have to pay a stiff premium when betting on Twitter’s future. The stock’s price/earnings ratio, based on projected profits, is 64, according to Morningstar. That makes Twitter shares considerably more expensive than Facebook’s, with a P/E of 37.

To add insult to injury, Twitter announced that it was cutting the range of what it expected to spend on capital investments this year from $500 million to $650 million to $450 million to $550 million. Facebook meanwhile spent $549 million in capital investment in the second quarter alone.

TIME Internet

Cecil the Lion, Walter Palmer and the Psychology of Online Shaming

What the online hate directed at a U.S. dentist, who shot and killed a lion in Zimbabwe, says about us.

Walter Palmer, the U.S. dentist who shot and killed Cecil the lion while on a hunting trip in Zimbabwe is, not surprisingly, facing a barrage of hate, threats and shaming on social media.

Palmer’s River Bluff dental practice in Bloomington, Minnesota has been shut since news of the scandal broke with a throng of protesters campaigning outside. Meanwhile, Internet users have flooded his Yelp page with stinging “reviews” and calls to boycott his practice. He is quickly losing his reputation and his business.

Palmer has maintained that he didn’t know the hunt was illegal, nor that the lion he killed was collared or part of a study. But in the eyes of impassioned online commentators and celebrity tweeters, Palmer is an “instant villain.”

“Something like this, which involves a lion, touches so many nerves.” Glenn Selig, founder and chief strategist at The Publicity Agency, a PR firm that works in crisis management, tells TIME. “This doctor becomes an instant villain: he’s apparently wealthy, and been portrayed as entitled and doing what he wants.”

And as so many before Palmer have found out, it doesn’t take killing an endangered animal to make you public enemy No.1.

In 2012, Lindsey Stone became an online pariah after a photo went viral of her posing and giving the finger next to a sign at the Arlington National Cemetery that read “Silence and Respect.”

Stone told the Guardian that it was a joke between friends to take stupid photographs and she had no idea her Facebook settings were not set to private.

Within 24-hours of the photo going viral, Stone had found herself in the middle of the equivalent to a public lynching. She received thousands of derogatory comments, including death and rape threats and was fired from her job as a care worker.

“Literally overnight, everything I knew and loved was gone,” Lindsey told the Guardian. She became depressed, suffered insomnia and barely left the house for a year.

Justine Sacco shared a similar fate in 2013, when flying from New York to South Africa she tweeted a couple of sarcastic jokes, including one about getting AIDs.

“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” the tweet read.

Unbeknown to Sacco, a PR officer in New York, during the 11-hour flight her tweet had been picked up and had gone around the world faster than she had, with thousands of people angrily calling her a racist and reveling in the fact she didn’t even know about the online hate awaiting her. By the time Sacco landed she was the No.1 worldwide trend on Twitter, reports the New York Times. Like Stone, she was also fired and suffered emotional trauma.

“Situations can turn terribly viscous with the truth often becoming the biggest casualty,” says Selig. “There’s so much talk on social media but no one is policing what’s being said. And people believe it regardless of who is speaking.”

The Internet is rife with examples of online shaming, whether it be for being fat, breastfeeding in public, wearing the “wrong” maternity clothes or for a silly tweet or photo. But what is it about the Internet, and in particular social media, that enables ordinary people to turn into crazed lynch mobs so readily?

Aaron Balick, a psychotherapist and author of The Psychodynamics of Social Networking says venting online is an easy, and anonymous, way to feel good about yourself.

“It’s so easy to be abusive online because it is just a matter of a few clicks on a keyboard and the “enter” key. An individual gets to get the bad feeling off their chest without considering that there is another human being, somewhere, on the other side of that tweet,” he said.

“This also happens on a group level where the shamed person online is made a scapegoat and the braying masses, however ultimately destructive, get to feel good about themselves.”

Jon Ronson, a journalist who has written extensively on online shaming, has interviewed Stone and Sacco at length and is author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, said social media users wield a lot of power.

“There’s a lot of people like Justine Sacco, there’s more everyday,” Ronson said in a recent TEDtalk.

“The great thing about social media was that it gave a voice to voiceless people. But we are now creating a surveillance society where the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless.”

TIME Social Media

The Lion-Killing Dentist Is Getting Totally Savaged Online

The backlash after killing of a beloved animal has been fierce

Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer may regret his encounter with Cecil the lion. Reviews are coming in fast and furious on Yelp a month after the killing and since the hunter’s identity was revealed. As Fortune reported July 28, negative reviews were being posted to River Bluff Dental’s practice in droves. Today, the reviews number nearly 7,000.

Palmer, who traveled to Zimbabwe and killed the beloved beast for a reported $50,000 fee. The lion had been part of a 13-year Oxford University study and was popular among animal lovers visiting Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Palmer, along with a group of hunters, killed Cecil with a bow and arrow.

As Fortune noted:

Until Tuesday, Palmer’s dentistry, River Bluff Dental, seems to have had few reviews. At one point late Tuesday afternoon, though, the dentistry had 25 pages of comments–totaling hundreds of posts–even as Yelp commenters noted that Yelp was deleting comments that weren’t entirely related to Palmer’s dental prowess.

Many of the reviews aren’t for the faint of heart. Here’s a round-up of some of the most damning as of July 29:

– “Here’s what I look for in a healthcare professional: a disgusting and thorough lack of compassion, sociopathic tendencies, a vile propensity for torture of the innocent, a bombastic self-importance, a demented and narcissistic sense of fun, a self-serving and egocentric disposition, a knack for betraying others’ trust, a history of lying to officials, a criminal record, and most of all a smug mug. I found all that in Dr. Walter Palmer at River Bluff Dental!”

– “Went in for a clean up. Left without a head,” wrote another, referring to the animal’s reported beheading.

“This dentist enjoys killing innocent, protected and endangered wildlife as a hobby. By continuing to visit this dentist you [are] endorsing horrific behavior!!! I am angry, disgusted and sad. I hope this man is hunted at the same capacity as he has hunted these innocent animals!!!!” wrote a third.

Palmer has defined himself despite the torrent of comment online. “I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits,” Palmer said in a recent interview. “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he added. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

TIME twitter

The 1 Most Interesting Thing We Just Learned About Twitter

<> on November 7, 2013 in London, England.
Bethany Clarke—2013 Getty Images Twitter's app on November 7, 2013 in London, England.

Twitter must look abroad for ever-important user growth

Twitter on Tuesday posted second quarter earnings of $0.07 per share, beating expectations of $0.04 per share. That good news sent Twitter’s stock up over 4% in after-hours trading early Tuesday afternoon.

But Twitter’s full earnings presentation reveals something else interesting about the service: Americans have pretty much stopped signing up for it.

The number of new American Monthly Active Twitter Users has been gradually getting smaller for a while now, even flatlining once before at the end of last year. Now that’s happened for a second time, with no new U.S. user growth from Q1 2015 to Q2 2015:

 Monthly Active Users
TwitterTwitter Monthly Active Users

That lack of American growth doesn’t mean Twitter isn’t making any money from the U.S. — domestic revenue hit $321 million this quarter, up 53% year-over-year. But it’s a sign that Twitter must increasingly look to foreign shores for more user growth, a metric closely watched by Twitter investors.

Twitter’s international growth figures are a little healthier on the surface, with the company adding 8 million international monthly active users in Q2 from the previous quarter. But Twitter says the lion’s share of that increase came from users who only engage with the service over SMS text messages, not the full mobile app. Those users, who mostly reside in less-developed countries that lack advanced wireless broadband infrastructure, will likely be more difficult for Twitter to effectively monetize.

MONEY stocks

Investors Are Bullish on Facebook Ahead of Earnings Report

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Zuckerberg plans to unveil tools that let application makers reach the social network’s audience while helping the company boost revenue. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg  *** Local Caption *** Mark Zuckerberg
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

Shares in the social media company, which reports its earnings on July 29, are up 20% for 2015.

Investors in social media shares have zeroed-in on Facebook FACEBOOK INC. FB 0.14% piling into stock options to add bullish bets on the company in the days ahead of its Wednesday earnings.

Facebook escaped a rout in social media stocks after last quarter’s results and its shares are up about 20% this year. The stock and a handful of other winners account for the bulk of the S&P 500’s SPX 0% gains this year.

The ascent has made Facebook one of the ten largest S&P companies in terms of market capitalization, with the stock now worth more than $260 billion – surpassing decades-old companies like Wal-Mart WAL-MART STORES INC. WMT 0.28% and Procter & Gamble PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY PG -0.39% .

Traders in the options market are betting on more gains for the stock after it reports results Wednesday.

“Facebook is definitely the standout leader in the group,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital.

“The stock’s recent performance, combined with the company’s leading position, explains the bullishness of the options activity,” he said.

Earnings seasons are typically choppy for stocks and even more so for social media companies, due to their high valuations and ongoing concern, in some cases, about their business models.

Last quarter, investors spooked by disappointing results sent shares of Twitter TWITTER INC. TWTR -5.61% , LinkedIn LINKEDIN CORP. LNKD -3.03% and Yelp YELP INC YELP -1.82% down by more than 20% the week they reported results.

“These stocks are some of the most expensive stocks in the market,” said Stephen Massocca, managing director with Wedbush Equity Management in San Francisco.

“If numbers are disappointing and either growth or profitability looks out of reach, it’s very easy to see why investors would get out in a hurry,” he said.

The bullishness in Facebook’s recent options trading makes it unique in the sector. The number of open contracts in Facebook’s options has jumped 25% since the start of July, and is the highest since mid-January.

Analysts expect robust mobile pricing and strength in video ads to help the company post strong results when it reports after the close of trading on Wednesday. Strong YouTube viewership helped drive Google Inc’s GOOGLE INC. GOOGL 1.1% second-quarter results, boding well for video on Facebook’s own platform.

In July, open interest in Facebook’s call options, usually used for bets the stock will rise, increased by 24%, twice as much as the increase in puts, which are usually bets on a decline. For every put option, there are now nearly two calls open, the lowest this ratio has been in favor of puts, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert.

“The recent decline in Facebook’s put/call open interest ratio to an all-time low implies long positioning ahead of earnings,” said Jim Strugger, a derivatives strategist at MKM Partners.

In contrast, trading in the options of Twitter, LinkedIn and Yelp suggest high risk of volatile moves in the shares but give little clue to their direction.

Twitter and Yelp are expected to report results on Tuesday afternoon, and LinkedIn’s results are scheduled for Thursday.

So far, there is little to suggest traders are preparing for the kind of selloff that social media shares experienced last quarter, said Anshul Agarwal, equity derivative strategist at Bay Crest Partners in New York.

“For LinkedIn, Yelp, and Twitter, we haven’t witnessed particularly bearish options flow,” he said.

TIME Social Media

LinkedIn Is Making a Big Change People Have Wanted for Years

LinkedIn Corp. To File For IPO
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images In this photo illustration, the LinkedIn logo is displayed on the screen of a laptop computer on January 27, 2011 in San Anselmo, California.

You're going to love this

A quick Google search of “LinkedIn email” provides a glimpse at how users of the professional social network feel about its presence in their inboxes. The first page of search results includes “How to Stop Annoying LinkedIn Emails,” “Turn Off Annoying LinkedIn Emails,” “How to Disable all of LinkedIn Emails,” and even “Judge Allows Lawsuit Over LinkedIn Emails to Progress.”

LinkedIn is listening. In a blog post Monday, Aatif Awan, senior director of product management, said, “we get it.” And LinkedIn is cutting down the number of emails its users receive.

Now, instead of emailing a user each time he or she receives an invitation to connect, users who receive a large number of requests will only receive one weekly digest email. And LinkedIn users who are part of groups — like alumni or professional networks — will receive digests of the groups’ updates instead of minute-by-minute emails. The changes will cut emails by 40%, the company says.

“When it comes to your inbox, the message has been received: less is more,” Awan wrote.

TIME Social Media

Twitter is Deleting Stolen Jokes for Copyright Reasons

Five separate tweets at least have been deleted by Twitter for copying a joke

Twitter is beset by the all-too-common joke thief. You tweet a precious 140-character joke, labored over for minutes, then you find it posted elsewhere on Twitter. It’s often a bot that copies the witticism and tweets it to its followers without attribution.

Now, it appears Twitter has had enough.

Some tweets have been deleted on copyright grounds in recent weeks for joke-stealing, the Verge reports. Five separate tweets at least have been deleted by Twitter for copying a joke by a Los Angeles freelance writer, Olga Lexell, who tweeted this joke: “Saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now i know god is on my side”.

When other accounts tweeted the same joke, Lexell complained to Twitter, which then deleted the copy-tweets and replaced it with the text “This Tweet has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.”

[The Verge]

TIME Social Media

Facebook Co-Founder Eduardo Saverin Confirms News of Wedding in Facebook Post

The Brazilian-born billionaire tied the knot in June

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co-founder of Facebook, confirmed that he got married last month in a post on the social-media website Sunday.

Saverin posted a photo of himself with his bride, Elaine Andriejanssen, with a message in English and Portuguese. “I am incredibly happy and thankful to have married the love of my life,” the post said. “I look forward to building a family together and to contributing our time and resources to make the world a better place.”

Andriejanssen is of Indonesian-Chinese descent and works in the finance industry, Singapore’s Straits Times reported. She met Brazilian-born Saverin when he was at Harvard University in Massachusetts and she was a student at nearby Tufts University.

Saverin, portrayed by actor Andrew Garfield in the 2010 Facebook biopic The Social Network, moved to Singapore in 2009 and gave up his acquired U.S. citizenship two years later. The 33-year-old is said to be worth more than $5 billion.

TIME LinkedIn

LinkedIn Just Changed This Very Popular Feature — and People Are Complaining

Social Media Illustrations
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It'll take much longer to export contacts

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or, in this case, don’t change it.

LinkedIn is dealing with some very unhappy users after making it more difficult for them to export contacts.

Business Insider reports that users can still download their contacts for the site, but it now takes longer. As of Thursday, LinkedIn users had to get an archive of their data to do the procedure, and that can reportedly can take up to 72 hours. Before, users could download user contact information immediately.

“Our members can continue to easily request an export all of the data LinkedIn has stored on their account, by visiting our help center,” LinkedIn told Business Insider.

The publication sifted through social media to find some users unhappy with the changed process to easily export their contacts:

According to VentureBeat:

We asked what format the contacts are made available in as part of the data archive, and the spokesperson confirmed that they are put into a CSV file. In short, what’s really changing here is that you can no longer export your contacts immediately. Now you have to get them as part of a data archive request, which can take up to three days.

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