Our reputation, personal opportunities, and identity will be shaped by social media


This morning was the launch of the Safeguarding the Future of Digital Australia 2025 that I wrote and compiled for McAfee, part of Intel Security.

There has been a very strong response to the report, with so far good articles in The Australian, Dynamic Business, WA Today, and many others, and the Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull saying “Intel Security’s report makes a major contribution to our understanding of how to safeguard Australians online and into the future.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Paul Fletcher spoke at the report’s launch at Parliament House, drawing particular attention to the tagline we created for the Future of Social section:

Our reputation, personal opportunities and identity will be shaped by our participation in social media

Many of the questions to the panel after our presentations were about this theme. Since the event was part of the Federal Government’s Stay Smart Online Week initiative, the focus was on how we safeguard our reputation and identity in a world shaped by social media.

I found one of the most interesting statistics from the survey accompanying the report was that 54% of Australians believe it is unfair for our social media activity to influence our work or financial opportunities.

Is it unfair if it is a true reflection of us? Perhaps the primary idea is that it is unfair that our degree of participation in social media should shape our fortunes.

On the plane back from Canberra I came across a pertinent article in the newspaper about the reputation of restaurant customers.

Keeping notes on customers is hardly new. But as social media continues to knock gaping holes in the divide between personal and public, restaurants that bother to do their research are reaping bigger rewards for their efforts.

Shared online reservation systems like Dimmi’s ResDiary, as well as social media sites liked LinkedIn and good old Google searches, can be a double-edged sword. Systems can be used to track dining ‘performance’ – how much you ordered, whether you tipped well, how pleasantly you treated staff or whether you continued to camp out at the table long after you’d finished dessert.

Our reputation is not just about our work performance, or even how good a partner we are. The insights gained from social media in the broadest sense mean that our reputation indeed precedes us in all domains.

Is this fair?

It is in an interesting question.

Irrespective, there is no question that social media is increasingly shaping our reputations and opportunities.