There’s virtually no end to the information you can find on the internet — and sometimes, that can pose a huge problem.
With just a simple online search, your friends, family and any potential employers can find all sorts of details about your personal and work histories, and more disturbingly, any less-than-flattering photos that happen to be floating around the Internet.
But what can you do if you find out that one of your more embarrassing (or potentially incriminating) photos has found a new home on the net? Should you brush it off and hope that nobody sees it? Besides, how much damage could one little photo do to your reputation?
“If you let embarrassing photos circulate on the web, it can immediately hurt your job prospects,” says Dan Schawbel, a managing partner of the management consultant firm Millennial Branding. But it’s not just job prospects that can suffer; as Schawbel notes, people have been fired from jobs they have held for years, simply because an old photo came back to haunt them. “Things that you’ve done years ago can wind up damaging your career today if you don’t do something about it now,” he says.
Tim Bukher, a partner at the firm of Handal & Morofsky, adds that harmful photos may cause a different kind of headache far down the road. As he recalls, there have been instances where people have lost lawsuits because “the other side was able to dig up an old photo to prejudice the jury,” meaning that it can be impossible to foresee how an Internet photo can affect your future.
The answer to these problems seems simple: just take the embarrassing photos down. But sometimes, it’s not as simple deleting them from your Facebook account or asking a friend to remove them from their online photo album. If your photo turns up on a random website, you’ll need to do a bit more work.