Introduction: Catching the Catfishers by Tyler Cohen Wood – What’s Your Digital Footprint?
Catching the Catfishers by Tyler Cohen Wood is a book about keeping yourself safe online and ensuring that your online reputation isn’t compromised. This is the first time in a very long time that a book shook me up so much. As I was reading Catching the Catfishers, I realized how much I do not know about having an online presence.
“If you make a positive first impression, you will have an easy time living up that impression. If you make a negative first impression, however, you will have a difficult time changing others’ perception of you. That is why making the first impression a good one so important… [A study reports that people] make an initial assessment in just one-tenth of a second. One-tenth of a second is an incredibly short amount of time to come up with a clear and lasting first impression,” says Tyler Cohen Wood.
What does your digital footprint say about you? Most of us know that we should be careful about our status updates online, but how consistent are you? The updates that I make online tend to be more business oriented. If someone looks at my updates frequently, they know that I love to read, I am interested in mentoring, women’s issues and leading.
From reading Catching the Catfishers, I learned that there are websites dedicated to piecing together all your updates to create a timeline, which may paint a different picture from what you are expecting. And on top of that, employers and prospective employers are checking up on you using your digital footprint. Tyler Cohen Wood mentions two websites – http://www.mylife.com/ and http://www.spokeo.com/ that you can use to piece together your digital footprint to see what you are actually doing and saying online.
Are you an over-sharer, whiner, arguer, boundary-crosser, or one-upper person when posting online? It’s difficult to tell from one post, but when a cyber-intelligence person looks at your digital trail, a picture emerges. Believe it or not, the information you post online, yields a lot of information about you. The author conducted an experiment where she had a timeline of posts from individuals, then she showed the results to HR professionals, and they were very clear about who they wouldn’t hire.
That’s why it’s very important to Google yourself to see what others are seeing. In addition to searching your name, the author recommends that you search for your email address and username to also see what others are seeing. There are ways to clean up your digital footprint if you need to, but as they say, prevention is better than cure. One website http://www.reputation.com/ defends your honor by helping you to clean up your digital footprint. Unfortunately, this website does not accept Canadian postal codes. One of the benefits of using Reputation.com is that it buries information that you do not want others to see. Typically, when someone conducts a search, they only browse through the first two pages of the results.
Before you post anything on your social media profiles, ask yourself, “How will this post be perceived in part or as a whole?” Imagine that an HR professional looked at a series of your posts, what would they say about you? Cohen Wood wants you to place yourself in an HR professional’s shoe, how would you answer the following six questions?
- What impression do you have of this person?
- Does the person’s style fit into one of the previous categories? (Over-sharer, whiner, and so on)
- If so, which one? How often?
- Would people want to be friends and work with this person?
- How could this person change the way he or she posts to improve his or her image?
- What makes this person unique and special, and what do you like the most about him or her?
The above questions are meant to help you to manage your image online.
In Catching the Catfishers, Tyler Cohen Wood points out that to get access to some types of information, you have to give up some of your privacy, and that resonates with me because there are times when I decide to not get a report or e-book because I believe that too much information is being requested.
One of the things that I found shocking in the book is that some companies are deciding whether to loan you money based on who you are connected to on social media. They are practicing, show me your company and I will tell you who you are. Another piece of information, which I already knew, but forgot, is using the WayBack Machine at Archive.org to see archived information on websites.
The site has information on my company website since 2000, that’s 14 years ago. For people who are looking for a job, when conducting research, research the company’s website using Archive.org to find information that you normally wouldn’t find now. Years ago, companies put a lot more contact information on a website than they do now. Searching an archived website of a prospective employer may give you that one piece of information that will give you a competitive edge.
For readers who have children, there is a section on how to keep your children safe on the internet. As a cyber-intelligence/cybercrime expert, Cohen Wood knows how to determine if someone is out to harm your child. It is important for parents to friend their children online. Say for instance that a pedophile is targeting your child, posing as someone in her/his age group, the book walks you through the process of dissecting the predator’s post to identify whether the person is a child. I was very surprised when I saw the clues to watch for. You learn how to identify deception.
There is a section teaching us how to determine if someone is lying based on the language they use. One of the big things is when a person uses language that distances her from the situation. Another benefit of reading the book, is learning how to use online dating services.
She recommends to never give your correct name and when you sign-up at dating sites not to use a username that you use elsewhere online. This prevents criminals from finding out your true identity. After I read the book, I conducted a search using my email and one using my username, and the results were similar to the results when I used my name.
There is also a section on how to complete a good profile for online dating services so you get responses from prospective mates. One of the things I would have really appreciated, and I am sure my readers would too, is if she included a LinkedIn profile, then deconstructed it, so that we can see the important elements to include so you get noticed. I know that there are many social media experts out there who give advice, which I appreciate, but I wanted the perspective of someone with Cohen Wood’s expertise.
Final Thoughts: Catching the Catfishers by Tyler Cohen Wood
I highly recommend Catching the Catfishers by Tyler Cohen Wood because it is filled with a lot of timely information that will help us. Every person can find one piece of information to use from the book. Finn Partners sent me a copy of this book to review. You can also read Tyler Cohen guest post, ‘Don’t Let Your Social Media Identity Ruin Your Hard-earned Business Reputation.’ Download Complimentary Catching the Catfishers Information to refer to constantly to keep your children and yourself safe online; a checklist to vet people and much more!