Protecting your Online Reputation when you have Criminal History
24 February 2021
Having a criminal record is bad enough, but in this day and age you also have to worry about your online criminal history. That’s a big problem for people whose arrest made the local news and their mugshots were plastered on various sites dealing with crimes.
Here is what you can do to protect your reputation and get on with your life after your debt to society is paid.
What sort of information does the Internet have on you?
It’s not just about your reputation, knowing what sort of information about you is available on the web is a very practical concern. The moment you apply for a job you can be fairly certain the employer will google your name. It’s become standard practice for HR departments to search on Google and check social media to see who they’re dealing with.
This is exactly what you should do, too. If your offence or trial ended up in the papers, prepare yourself to read some very unflattering things about you. Or see your face on websites that specialize in mugshots, and there’s more than one.
What can you do to bury your past?
There’s one thing you need to know about search engines like Google. Most people looking up something won’t bother to read more than what’s on the first page of the results they get. Those who take the trouble to click on the next pages are quite few, and that is good news for you.
You can actually bury the negative coverage by generating some positive content about yourself. You need to think up ways for your name to appear on various sites and be associated with good or at least neutral stuff.
Trying to get in the news but this time for something good might be a bit difficult, so you can try creating your own website, with your name on it. For instance, you can start a blog and write about anything you want. If you care about sports, make it about that. Or start blogging about your dog.
Also, you need to have pictures of yourself online, so that mugshot won’t appear on the first page of the search results.
Use social media accounts to post pictures of you going to the gym or visiting some place, really anything is better than photos of your arrest.
Make the most of the Spent Convictions scheme
According to Australian law, criminal offences can become spent after 10 years, or 5 for juvenile offenders. This means that the spent conviction will no longer appear on your national criminal history check after the waiting period is over. That’s great when you go to a job interview, but mentions of that offence might still be available online.
It is up to you to track such mentions and contact those sites, explaining the situation and asking them to pull those articles down. It’s not going to be easy, but some will accommodate.
The mugshots sites we’ve mentioned have been known to ask for money to pull photos from their galleries, which is obviously illegal. In this case, all you can do is sue them for extortion or at least threaten to sue them. That might work as well.