One of the big advantages in today’s online world is the ability to easily share a wealth of information with friends and other groups of people. Social networking has grown significantly since 2004 and a proliferation of online social networking sites and blogs are providing the tools and technologies needed to drive this new social revolution.
Although we now have greater opportunities to share information, the downside is that personal information is more likely to be seen by a wider audience, including potential employers and others that we never anticipated. In fact, the reality is that it’s almost impossible to prevent personal information from showing up, for the entire online world to see.
Personal Information That Is Visible Online
Are you curious about how much of your information is visible online? To find out, just do a quick search on Google using your name (in quotes) and a location. You may be surprised to see that not only does your name show up in the Google search results page, it’s likely that additional information such as your friends names, your home address, the year of your high school graduation, your personal email, and much more are there as well. What’s really amazing is to see just how much personal information there is online.
If you’ve registered on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or Classmates.com, you may find that much of the personal information provided has now been indexed by search engines like Google and Yahoo. In fact you may discover that a lot of personal information is actually displayed in the search results page itself, whether or not someone has access to your password protected information.
How To Reduce Online Privacy Concerns
What can be done to prevent the display of private information online? Well, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll be able to completely prevent this information from showing up online. But, there are some steps that you can take that should help reduce the amount of information that can be seen online. The following are a few suggestion to do so:
- On a monthly basis, search the Internet for your name and location to see if there’s any information about you online. If it is information that you do not want there, contact the website and ask them how to remove this information.
- Using the same search keywords, setup a Google Alert to notify you any time new information about you shows up in the Google search index.
- Use one or two social sites (like Facebook or LinkeIn) as your primary source of online personal information. When you are asked for this same information on other social networking sites, try to create a link to the main profile sites so that your information is centralized and more easy to update.
- If you are using a social networking site like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., double check your privacy settings. Many sites allow you to hide your name, age, email address, etc. Some sites have defaults where all of this information is displayed unless you change the settings.
- Be aware that any information you place online could be seen by anyone in the present OR in the future.
Although none of these steps are 100% guaranteed to work, if you follow these guidelines you should see results. Just remember that it could take a couple of month for many of these changes to take effect in the search engines.