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The Internet Businesses Google Privacy

People Were More Likely To Google Themselves This Year 160

Ponca City, We Love You writes "More than twice as many Americans googled themselves in 2006 than five years previous — and many are googling their friends and romantic interests as well, according to a report released ecently by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The survey shows that the percentage of US adult Internet users who have looked for information about themselves through Google or another search engine has more than doubled in the past five years (pdf) from 22 percent in August, 2001 to 47 percent in December, 2006. Only 3 percent of internet self-googlers say they Google themselves regularly, 22 percent say 'every once in a while,' and three-quarters say they have googled themselves once or twice. The original report, 'Digital Footprints,' contains many more interesting observations (pdf)."
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People Were More Likely To Google Themselves This Year

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  • Google? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I hear they have that on computers now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I have done a few searches on myself, just to see what comes up.

      Absolutely nothing comes up on Google when I search myself. I am always amazed how much info people will put on the internet (blogs, facebook and so forth) then be shocked when those college binge drinking from a beer-bong pictures show up somewhere.

      My theory: If it might be potentially embarrassing to you in the future, don't put it on the internet. Plain and simple.
      • Uh huh. (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You theory sucks.

        If it might be potentially embarrassing to you in the future, either get over it or don't do it in public. Other people (sometimes your 'friends') will put it up for you. Plain and simple.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        > Absolutely nothing comes up on Google when I search myself.

        Congratulations! It looks like you are not notable.

        > If it might be potentially embarrassing to you in the future, don't put it on the internet.

        Believe it or not, some people are subject to scrutiny by others. These people, that we sometimes term "successful" or "interesting", are sometimes commented on by others.
        • Congratulations! It looks like you are not notable.

          I guess I should have stated that absolutely nothing of any embarrassment factor comes up. My published papers under my maiden name do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )
        Exactly, it is considered perfectly legal for potential employers to not hire somebody due to the results of a google.

        Personally my name only shows up once for anything that I can identify as being me in the first 6 or so pages of any of the combinations of my first middle and last names. And I like it that way, it used to show up 5 or 6, right now it only shows up once at my alma mater. And I suspect that they'll probably lose that after a while as lab partners from 2003 isn't something that is terribly im
      • Unless you feel like giving your money away in $30 chunks to those reputation management [reputationdefender.com] companies that have sprung up. I'm sure they'd be quite happy to take $30 a pop to get rid of your kegstands, bong hits, 4:20 celebrations, cross-dressing....

        Oh, crud, that was just last weekend's worth.
    • Re:Google? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by proudfoot ( 1096177 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @08:09PM (#21786484)
      So I have. So, how many people googled themselves after reading this post?
      • Googling oneself, how provincial! My Google Alert notifies me immediately.
      • by Atario ( 673917 )
        I have never tried; I know it would be fruitless. I share my name with a 1970s/early 1980s rock musician. And the name would be very very common even were it not for him. So even if there were anything worthwhile to find about me, it would be buried beyond hope.

        In Soviet Google, celebrities give YOU anonymity!
      • I've been on the Internet (milnet, arpanet, etc. etc.) for A LONG TIME.

        I hardly show up at all, by design.

        I mean, who is going to look for "NotQuiteReal", or any one of a number of identities I might or might not admit to, and associate it with "me"?

  • i wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xubu_caapn ( 1086401 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @07:33PM (#21786118)
    how many knew enough to put it in quotations?
    • by MonkWB ( 724056 )
      names are always formatted into First Last; sometimes it is Last, First. So putting ones name in quotations does not necessarily mean better results.
  • by skydude_20 ( 307538 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @07:35PM (#21786136) Journal
    people were always more likely to ___________ themselves this year
  • by farkus888 ( 1103903 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @07:38PM (#21786168)
    I've been googling myself at a pretty steady frequency since about the time I turned 13!
  • Am I the only person who has actively concealed themselves from prying online eyes?

    I've been a pretty affluent internet creature since the mid 90's (yes, a latecomer in this crowd, I understand) and since my first forays onto the www I've filled-out registration information with bogus info. Having done this for more than a decade, I can in fact google myself, but only via usernames and other pseudonyms.

    Even my myspace and facebook profiles are semi-bogus. I understand that certain high-profile instances will launch your true identity into the limelight (any bit of media publicity for example), but I constantly hear about individuals who are googleable, not because of a media instance, but simply because they have placed themselves into the great index.

    Who has willfully made themselves searchable, and why? I have enjoyed a fruitful, successful life in the IT industry this whole time and I have not yet needed to put my personal info into a publicly searchable and available location.

    What are the benefits? I ask, because to me, being a very private person, I see mostly, maybe overwhelmingly, negative results.
    • by Oriumpor ( 446718 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @07:54PM (#21786322) Homepage Journal
      Well, if you've been around since the 1990's on the web, and you haven't been forced into a situation where your credentials are your real name I'd assume you're lucky. Almost my entire web presence as an individual is due to School/Work accounts that forced me to use my real name as my credentials and subsequently published them (or had them published via 3rd party sendlists etc.)

      My psuedonym has a 30:1 ratio of hits on google to my real name however, and with a modicum of searching I'm sure you could tie the two together...
    • If you only associate positive things with your name, it can help when potential employers do a cursory check on you.
      • by Sique ( 173459 )
        The only thing that comes up several times about me after googling myself is a potential threath to Windows Vista security I once described. It was published as a footnote in a single article, and it comes now up in english, french, spanish, italian and german. So what impression will a potential employer have about me?
        • No worry, no one I know ever takes threaths siriusly.
        • by FLEB ( 312391 )
          You're multilingual?
          • by Sique ( 173459 )
            I know some languages, but the article (which I didn't write, just commented about once) was rewritten and included my comment, and later on got translated to other languages. Thus it is this single article, which has spawn lots of copies and some translations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Suicyco ( 88284 )
        Man, how many of us used our real names when talking about all kinds of crazy shit back in the day... I did, and regret it to this day. Especially on usenet. OH man hehe. On the web my real name is only good stuff, published articles, interviews, technical stuff from listservs, etc. On usenet? Holy fuck. Flame wars, drugs, sex, all kinds of really embarrassing stuff.
        • On the web my real name is only good stuff, published articles, interviews, technical stuff from listservs, etc. On usenet?

          Usenet is, as I recall, "google-able" through Google Groups, back pretty far into what is, in internet time, the ancient history.
          • by Suicyco ( 88284 )
            That was my point. Who would have thunk it, posting to usenet 20 years ago, that it would all still be here, searchable by anybody. Google says they will delete posts for you but I have tried, they always deny the request for some odd reason. Oh well, the next time around, when the new fangled interuse web thingy comes around, I'll remember not to use my real name.
            • When my kid first ventured onto the internet, I told him to always make up a silly name for himself whenever he posted or logged in or whatever, to absolutely never type his real name no matter who was running the site. That was over ten year ago, maybe I should google his real nme and see if it pops up. Of course, Google remembers your searches, so that googling your real name while logged in with a pseudonym or vice versa could link your identities or those of your kids forever.

              Hmm, ponders the post an
        • by localman ( 111171 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @09:00PM (#21786848) Homepage
          Man. I get that the reality is people are super judgemental and that we're always playing the reputation game whether we like it or not... but it does bum me out that people have to be so fake all the time. People haven't come to accept that others are sometimes as wild and crazy as we are. Everyone has skeletons in the closet, so why is everyone so shocked when they find other people's skeletons in the closet? Meh.

          I suppose I'm an idiot: I wear my freakdom like a badge of honor most of the time. Anyone could find out pretty easily that I was part of a white rap group, an offensive punk band, and that I directed a film that features Jesus smoking a joint. So far it hasn't been a problem, and I've had some good jobs. But I bet it will bite me eventually. Oh well... I'm going to try to represent: you can be wild and crazy at times and still be extremely diplomatic and professional when called for.

          I hope someday we can deal with people being multi-faceted.

          • by Suicyco ( 88284 )
            Back in the day I was all about just being who I was (am). I wasn't ashamed of it (still not) and as you said, proudly wore my freakishness on my sleeve. A lot of us were like that, the old days on usenet were the wild west. You had scientists posting under their real names how to purify heroin for gods sake hehe. Talking about bizarre sex fetishi, discussing all manner of weirdo crap. University professors, research scientists, government workers, military types, etc. etc. It was just discussion groups, it
          • by FLEB ( 312391 )
            One happy side effect is that the people who would look into that and be shied away by it... probably aren't the types you'd want to associate with.
      • I have even a good example...I was participating in a thread, right here on Slashdot...Some outsourcing thing, I have no idea.
        This is the thread in particular [slashdot.org]...It was in a random outsourcing thread, so you can imagine the level of comments. Mine in particular are pretty much devoid of racial content...I reserve my true hatred for Dell, and that's pretty much why I jumped into a semi-OT thread about tech support.

        Week or so later I start getting nasty emails, calling me a racist. Arrooo? I have vices, but th
      • by Triv ( 181010 )

        If you only associate positive things with your name, it can help when potential employers do a cursory check on you.

        Tell that to the other guy with my name [wikipedia.org]. I can't tell you how pissed off I was when that shoddy excuse for a lawyer from Florida became the focus of so much of our time and I'd load slashdot over breakfast to find headlines like, "Jack Thompson voted biggest douche on the internet."

        I can't even say I was here first because he's got decades on me. Bastard.

    • by Thunderstruck ( 210399 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @08:03PM (#21786430)
      Like anything else, the benefits will vary depending on who you are. You indicate that you have a successful life in the IT industry. You probably work for a school or business, and have no need for people to be able to find you on the Internet.

      By contrast, small businessmen, artists, private doctors, lawyers, politicians, and a host of other types of people not only benefit from being visible on the internet, they need to be there in order to seem legitimate to potential clients or customers.

      My guess is, in the future, how we think about the face we present on the internet will be a lot like how we think about getting dressed in the morning. We'll ask ourselves, "Where am I going, and is anyone important going to see me there?"

    • The benefits are only subtly apparent and difficult to measure at best. It helps if your father has the same name! Since I joined the online community with CompuServe when it was partially owned by New York Telephone, I was always aware of the power of computers. It occurred to me that I could be indexed involuntarily permanently, and so I began using the suffix Jr. to distinguish myself from my father. It still ticks him off that I have WAY more results than he does courtesy of an OLD web page [geocities.com] and the nume
    • Why bother? I pretty much always use my name in stuff. I got my current job precisely because I was visible... at its peak the first 6 pages of any google search came up with stuff about me. Now it's buried in other Tony Hoyle's any I'm only a footnote (partly due to changes in google indexing, partly because I'm not posting on things like LKML any more so don't get the high profile hits).

      Of course if there's someone else with your name who's a serial drug user, criminal, paedophile etc. and your prospe
    • by Mushdot ( 943219 )

      Surprisingly, googling my real name brings up no result. I use totally made up usernames (usually based on some random thought in my head at the time of registration), but I have given my real details in the past with no result from google. However, using my old university username brings up a whole load of usernet pain from my former years.

      My sister appears in the top ten results because she works for a newspaper, and as you would expect, all articles are available online.

      One of my work colleagues lost h

    • Am I the only person who has actively concealed themselves from prying online eyes?

      I just hide behind the more famous people a Google search will pull up. I'm safe for quite some time...

      ---John Holmes...

      • or, you can be like me and do the opposite, i have the most common male first name of my generation, and, well...
        ~~~Jacob Smith (google me, I dare you) ;-D
      • In the old days I used to post to usenet under my real name. I never dawned on me that some of those old posts would surface and be archive forever. Good thing there is another me out there is a pretty famous axe murder.

    • > Am I the only person who has actively concealed themselves from prying online eyes?

      I've done the same, and I'm very happy I did. Searching for my real name comes up with some photographic work and a few old linux mailing list discussions; nothing I'd want to hide. (yes, it's true that in 1997 I wasn't certain how to check for bad disk sectors under linux; I'm not ashamed to admit that!)

      I'm more concerned about the horrid football themed myspace page that comes up as the first result.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spasm ( 79260 )
      If you're an academic, having a bunch of publications come up when someone googles your real name is actually helpful to your career.

      Alas, my real name is pretty common (and is shared with a TV character) so you have to add "drugs" or "heroin" after it before I show up on the first page (hey, it's what I study, honest) : P
    • I haven't needed to actively conceal myself. If you Google my real name, you'll get plenty of hits, but I am neither the baseball player, nor the musician, nor the author. Two of the top 100 Google hits for my name are me, but good luck picking them out.
    • Well, first, I got called to work as a programmer, after 3 years of dot-com slumber crash. That made an enormous difference in my life. They already knew that I could code because they were sifting through my online questions and scripts and programs and so on. And they already knew that I was deeply committed to the Open Source ethic. They also knew that I was available. It was all out there. So they called me up and I was a software developer again.

      But more importantly, I regularly get to meet very
    • My common-use screen name is incredibly easy to Google, but I've made no secret of it. I don't, however, give it to real-life people -- co-workers, employers, and so on.

      I happen to have a real name in common with a very famous film actor of the 1950s - 1980s, so I've never found a result that was actually me within the first 40 pages of searching, even when I start to add keywords about my hometown, university, business, or so on. I consider that my good fortune.
    • ...my myspace and facebook profiles...

      You're a "very private person" but feel the need to have pages at these sites? I don't get it.
  • by maggiemerc ( 950581 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @07:46PM (#21786258)
    Apparently I'm not a writer but a prolific techno god in Russia. This is exciting news.
  • Third party (Score:4, Funny)

    by davidc ( 91400 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .ffupdc.> on Friday December 21, 2007 @07:49PM (#21786276)
    I much prefer having other people google me. So much more satisfying.
  • Ummmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SlashDev ( 627697 )
    How do they know that people are googling themselves??????
  • I googled myself but none of the search results are about me. Apparently there is a musician with the same name and all the results are about him.
  • by Adult film producer ( 866485 ) <van@i2pmail.org> on Friday December 21, 2007 @08:00PM (#21786394)
    usually find some interesting stuff, and google images always has the best pics of me. (SafeSearch is Off)
  • I google myself every now and then to check that I'm first for my name in Google [google.com] and Google Images [google.com]. It helps long lost friends find me. Better than trying to guess which social networks I'm in.

    Of course, Slashdot's page rank can only help here, hence this comment :)

    For those of you that think I'm a Perl programming asshole [cliveholloway.net] though, feel free to help build that little googlebomb ;-)

  • upon finding themselves in the Google listings? More than 99.9999999% of us are just "ordinary", unspectacular beings. Conceit, delusion and illusion makes us think we are more or worth more than we really rate.

    By the same token, I rate the populace more valuable than most politicians, as the are extraordinary, but extraordinarily super-conceited...
  • by digitalderbs ( 718388 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @08:04PM (#21786438)
    I happen to "google" myself in the shower every morning, but it's not exactly newsworthy.
  • Is it good or bad that the top google results for your handle (tyrus sithius) are from razor 1911 greets from 1996?

    I googled my real name and just saw other people's successes......
  • With all those viruses hanging around. GTD Googly Transmitted Disease
  • Last year, googling my own name was fun, because it actually turned up a few interesting things I had almost forgotten about. This year, despite the fact that there are several pieces of open source software released under my real name, and hundreds of mailing list posts, most of the results appear to be useless pages in Ubuntu's Launchpad. Which I didn't even use, except for reporting a few bugs...
  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @08:20PM (#21786580)
    Self Googling will make you blind.
  • I haven't had much luck searching for people on google. Its just too hard to find info on the right firstname lastname. Using facebook to find out about people is far easier. Even if you only have a first name and know they are local it is fast. I do it all the time. After I meet a girl at the bar, I'll always look her up on facebook before I call her up. It works both ways though, and can be pretty scary sometimes. I went out on a date with a girl last month and she knew everything about me. I was v
  • I suppose (Score:3, Funny)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @08:26PM (#21786624)
    Cmdr Taco googling himself would come up with 5 million references to "Lame". :P
  • Since I have a pretty rare name, I created a Google alert with my name.
    I receive around one mail every week.

    I guess this makes me a continuous self-googler since 2 years.
  • People who read articles about Googling themselves are more likely to Google themselves. It's self a fulfilling article!
  • My name (Chinese) is "She MaTing".
  • [Ben Stein Voice]That sounds diiiiirty[/Ben Stein Voice]
  • Self Googling has been discovered to cause cancer.
  • A mechanic
    A writer
    A photographer
    A director of Rolls Royce
    A mortgage provider

    oooh. A War correspondent!

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday December 21, 2007 @09:30PM (#21787010)
    This article is almost identical to one from 1977, except that one said:

    "More than twice as many Americans xeroxed themselves in 1976 than five years previous -- and many are xeroxing their friends and romantic interests as well, according to a report released recently by the Pew Copyrigh and American Life Project.
  • [Xander reviews a high-school student's records.]

    Willow: Have you Googled her yet?
    Xander: Willow! She's seventeen!
    Willow: It's a search engine.

  • So that's kinda uncomfortable. For you.
  • Doesn't this cause blindness?

    Hairy palms?

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll