It’s inevitable. Your personal information, or at least a nice part of it, is probably on Google and swimming around the interwebs. If you are in bed with the usual suspects, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or any of the other large social networks and sharing sites, your personal information is free to be trolled. For most of us, this is perfectly fine. We live in a society during a time when exposing ones daily minutia, trivialities, drama, romantic preferences and compromising moments in life are almost considered public domain. This is also the perfect arguement for ego-surfing you overall online profile, if there is information out there that is inaccurate or may potentially present a problem, for warned is fore armed.
Ego-surfing, also known as googling yourself and vanity-searching is when a person goes online and uses search engines to find out how much personal information is available based on or connected to their real name, screen name, email address, blogs, articles, pictures, videos, etc. The more we share our lives via online services the more important managing these lives becomes.
Google and Personal Security:
There are at least half a dozen free services that come to mind when looking for personal information on someone. These channels, outside of the more frequently used social media giants, are generally harder for one to control as they scrape public domain databases to find your residence , current and past, your place of work, your next of kin, and even your traffic report. And since they are harder to control, they are harder to correct if wrong and that can have far reaching implications on your life. Imagine going to an interview and a potential employer (let’s just sat the presentations department of a insurance company) runs your name thru Google and your name is tagged in an Occupy Wall Street arrest…. Long story short #NoBueno! If it’s you, I hope you can stand for what you believe in, but if it’s not you, someone mistagged your name or it’s a similar name, that’s just one more reason you can be disqualified for the position. And more and more, computer algorithms are used to screen potential candidates. Here are a few steps to take in the event that you find embarrassing (or incriminating) posts about you online: How to Fix Internet Embarrassments and Improve Your Online Reputation.
What is your brand and how do people see it?:
First things first, recognize that all of the life experiences you place out in the digital universe are part of your brand. You may not see it that way but people that Google you will. So it’s probably a good idea to be aware of that element of you social media life and monitor it frequently. This infographic below will give you several key points to consider. Good luck in your search and I hope you find what you are looking for! (BTW, if you find anything particularly egregious check out How to Watch for Identity Theft Using Google Alerts – wikiHow, and you may want to look at International Fraud Awareness Week).
And if you need a little (corny) background soundtrack on your search, check out the “Google Me” music video by Teyana Taylor! A perfect example of how ego-surfing has become vanity on roids.
…and then there is also “Google Me” the movie: A documentary about a guy, Jim Killeen, who Googled himself and then went all over the world meeting others with his name. This is ego-surfing on a global level. It’s kinda long but you will get the idea of what it’s about in the first five minutes.