This concept didn’t originate with me, and I can’t find the site(s) where I originally read about the importance of owning your own name online. I’m not trying to take someone else’s idea here, just emphasize the truth behind the idea. You need to own your own name online.
I realized a long time ago that you need to own your name in the form of a website. I own basically every variation of russellhollander I can get my hands on, .net, .biz, .us, .org, .whatever. I bought these domains so I don’t have anybody else out there operating under my name. Not that anybody would do so maliciously, but if they are also named Russell Hollander. Well, I was here first, and that’s going to be me. You can find a different name to operate under online. Someone else before me got rhollander and hollander, so I took russellhollander.
I hadn’t considered how this same logic applies to social media though. Honestly I find social media kind of tiring. I maintain a Facebook and a Twitter, but I don’t particularly care for them. I keep FB going because I’ve got a ton of friends on there from college, and don’t have another way of being in touch with them. I guess I could get their phones and email addresses, but it’s easier to just let FB handle all that for me. I keep it pretty locked down though. I kind of view Twitter as my public face on social media, but I barely send out any tweets. I mostly use it to just keep track of news. I guess I have a Google+ as well, don’t do anything with that. Oh yeah, and Linked in. Guess I should make better use out of these things.
But the Instagram Imposter episode has taught me that you need to own your name on social media too, even when it is annoying. I don’t know anything about Instagram other than Facebook owns it. Yet some miscreant got on there, set up an account with basically my name, stole my photo from Twitter, and at least had the decency to also post this web address. I can’t really see that the person did anything with the account. No activity. I would’ve never even known about it unless a couple friends of mine told me they were following me on there. Well, you can’t follow me on Instagram as of this writing, because I don’t use an Instagram. But maybe I should. Someone else is out there pretending to be me. I can’t have that.
In the end, Instagram removed that account, so for now the issue is resolved. I’d still like to know if it was a person creating that, or if Instagram somehow scrubbed publicly available data and made that account to inflate their numbers, as was suggested by a friend of mine in the web design, SEO, and marketing business.
The whole point I’m rambling towards is that you probably should have an account for yourself with these services, if nothing else so your presence on the web is actually coming from you. Most of us are insignificant enough no one would bother to take our names or try to pretend to be us, but I don’t know why you’d even give out the opportunity. Maybe that’s a paranoid way of looking at things, but I’d look at is as proactive.