I have seen the Internet grow from its infancy to where it is today with billions of pages of information.
Many individuals, both older and younger take online privacy very lightly. The younger crowd is using the MySpace.com, Facebook.com and other areas online for sharing way too much personal information in my opinion. This younger group of people haven’t a clue how this could possibly affect them in the future when prospective employers will be doing online background checks on these prospective employees. The older group of individuals also are unaware of the power of online search and what type of discovery can be attained by advanced searches using the search engine tools available.
To really understand the implications of privacy online, one only has to do a Google , Yahoo, and Bing Search on their own names. To do this may require a little advanced search engine search techniques, especially if you have a common name like, Joe Smith.
Here are a few helpful insights into doing a search for yourself.
We will use Joe Smith as our example for Google Search.
First try just doing a search for Joe Smith. In this particular example it shows a large number of Joe Smiths. To filter it further try doing a search with “Joe Smith” in quotes as shown. This will bring up the exact results for the name in quotes. This produces less search engine results but does not exactly break it into just one particular individual. Try adding a middle initial or middle name to the search criteria. Then filter it down even further to the area of the country or world. For example, let’s say that your are a Joe Smith, living in Washington. Then just add the word Washington after your name in the search box. “First I. Last” State
Most people are surprised by the number of online results for their names. This might be OK for individuals that understand the privacy aspect, but have chosen a high profile profession. Others on the other hand might not understand the implications of writing online, publishing personal content, or having their names posted in an online company directory, or postings in forums, or being a member of a local soccer or softball club in which their name is picked up by the search engines.
A little advice for those wishing to maintain as much privacy as they can. Consider carefully where you post your name online. If you are a member of a club or if your company has an online directory ask that your name or even your email address be kept offline. Do regular background searches on yourself to verify your brand image online. Use all of the major search engines to double and triple check the results.
Writers and journalists, be careful of who you quote, even in newspaper reporting. Consider the privacy of individuals. News stories are picked up and published online. Consider the ethics aspect when reporting information in news stories. Bloggers too should follow ethical standards when publishing information online.
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