Various news sources this week have reported on a new Facebook based drinking game phenomenon known as Neknominate.

Why is Neknominate so bad for your online reputation and how does this illustrate the wider issue social networking poses in such situations?

Neknominate is a Facebook based drinking game that originated in Australia, but has since become popular in other areas of the world including the UK. The game challenges players to down a drink before completing an outlandish dare. Then the player posts a video of the dare with the hash tag #neknominate and challenges friends to carry out a similar dare in the caption of their video.

It’s being billed by news outlets as a student drinking game; however the reality is that people far older are playing it. At the time of writing a case was brought to our attention of a 32 daredevil that downed a drink then jumped 90ft.

However Neknominate is not just a game for daredevils and challenges are increasingly encouraging people to break the law. Just this week a case has been brought to our attention that has seen players of the game break the law.

This trend sees players down a live gold fish; the RSPCA have now come out on record noting that this against the law and they’ll prosecute anyone found completing such a challenge.

Considering that some of these actions have crossed legal boundaries, it’s clear that Neknominate poses a clear threat to your personal online reputation. After all if you break the law and any potential employer ever found out, it would most likely kill any chances of a job opportunity on the spot.

However it goes further than this. Even though most Neknominate videos don’t actually break the law, the fact that they depict you carrying out a dare that many would deem foolish casts doubt on your judgement.

When you’re looking to promote yourself as a serious professional looking to enter the job market or to establish a solid business reputation, if something emerges that implies you are prone to making errors in judgement it’s going to cast doubt on your abilities in the eyes of those you are looking to impress.

However it holds a specific risk in online reputation. This is for two reasons. The first is the fact that it is posted on Facebook or other social media sites. They tend to rank quite well on Google. Therefore if somebody ‘Googles’ you, a practice becoming increasingly popularity among potential employers, then it’s likely one of the first things they are going to see when they type in your name.

The other concerns media coverage. These types of stunts are the stuff of a tabloid fantasy, if you do something controversial they’ll pick up on it and it’ll be on their website within the day.  Again, news websites rank well on Google and the same problem occurs.

Managing your personal reputation requires foresight. Ask yourself: ‘is this post, comment, video etc. going to lessen you in the eyes of others at a later date?’ If the answer you come up with is a ‘yes’, stop what you’re doing immediately. With crazes like Neknominate the answer should always be a yes.

To find out more about how to manage your personal reputation online contact Simon Wadsworth on email: [email protected] or phone: +44 (0) 203 542 8689 in confidence.