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Online identity management (OIM) also known as online image management or online personal branding or personal reputation management (PRM) is a set of methods for generating a distinguished Web presence of a person on the Internet. That presence could be reflected in any kind of content that refers to the person, including news, participation in blogs and forums, personal web sites (Marcus, Machilek & Schütz 2006), social media presence, pictures, video, etc.

Online identity management also refers to identity exposure and identity disclosure, and has particularly developed in the management on online identity in social network services (Tufekci 2008) or online dating services (Siibak 2007).

One aspect of the online identity management process has to do with improving the quantity and quality of traffic to sites that have content related to a person. In that aspect, OIM is a part of another discipline called search engine optimization with the difference that the only keyword is the person's name, and the optimization object is not necessary a single web site; it can consider a set of completely different sites that contain positive online references. The objective in this case is to get high rankings for as many sites as possible when someone search for a person's name. If the search engine used is Google, this action is called "to google someone"[1].

Another aspect has to do with impression management, i.e. "the process through which people try to control the impressions other people form of them". One of the objective is in particular to increase the online reputation of the person.

Online identity management often involves participation in social media sites like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Twitxr,, Myspace, Orkut and other online communities and community websites, and is related to blogging, blog social networks like MyBlogLog and blog search engines like Technorati.

But it can also consist in more questionable practices. Hense in the case of social network services users have the possibility to buy 'friends' so to increase their visibility [2].



The objective of online identity management is to:

  1. Maximize the appearances of positive online references about a specific person, targeting not only to users that actively search for that person on any Search Engine, but also to those that eventually can reach a person's reference while browsing the web.
  2. Build an online identity in case the person's web presence is minimal or nonexistent.
  3. Solve online reputation problems. In this case, the process can also be named online reputation management.[3]


The reason why someone would be interested in doing online identity management is closely related to the increasing number of constituencies that use the internet as a tool to find information about people. A survey by found that 1 in 4 hiring managers used search engines to screen candidates. One in 10 also checked candidates' profiles on social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook [4]. According to a December 2007 survey by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy research organization, roughly half of U.S. hiring officials use the Internet in vetting job applications [5].

See also


  • Marcus, Bernd; Machilek, Franz; Schütz, Astrid (2006), "Personality in cyberspace: Personal web sites as media for personality expressions and impressions", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 90 (6): 1014–1031, doi:10.1037/0022-3514.90.6.1014  
  • Siibak, A. (2007), "Casanova` s of the Virtual World. How Boys Present Themselves on Dating Websites", Young People at the Crossroads: 5th International Conference on Youth Research in Karelia; Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia, Russian Federation; September 1-5, 2006. (Eds.) M. Muukkonen& K. Sotkasiira, Joensuu University: Joensuun yliopisto, pp. 83–91, ISBN 978-952-219-020-8,  
  • Tufekci, Zeynep (2008), "Can You See Me Now? Audience and Disclosure Regulation in Online Social Network Sites", Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 28 (1): 20–36, doi:10.1177/0270467607311484  
  1. ^ Seth Godin (January 2, 2008). "The first thing to do this year". Seth Godin.  
  2. ^ Learmonth, Michael (2009), "Want 5,000 More Facebook Friends? That'll Be $654.30", AdvertisingAge, September 02, 2009,  
  3. ^ Susan Kinzie and Ellen Nakashima (July 2, 2007). "Calling In Pros to Refine Your Google Image". The Washington Post.  
  4. ^ Cristian Lupsa (November 29, 2006). "Do you need a Web publicist?". The Christian Science Monitor.  
  5. ^ Ellen Nakashima (March 7, 2007). "Harsh Words Die Hard on the Web". Washington Post.  

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