Privacy can be hard to come by, and Google doesn’t make things any easier. Unless you’ve found a way to delete files and their backups, it’s pretty likely that anything you’ve ever uploaded to the Internet is available for the world to see. It’s just a matter of looking hard enough for it. That is why it is so important that you learn how to manage your online reputation.
For this week’s assignment, we had the task of Googling ourselves. I actually do this every once in a while just to see what information is out there about me. Fortunately, I have a pretty unique first and last name, so when you Google “Lynette Zilio”, the majority of the information that comes up is connected to me in some manner. When I Googled my name for this assignment, I wasn’t surprised to see that all nine results on Page 1 were of me. In fact, all of the results on pages 1-5 were of me. It wasn’t until I got to Page 6 that non-related search results started popping up.
The first three results on Page 1 referenced my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. I use Facebook more than the other two, and while I use Twitter more than LinkedIn, I have more information about me on LinkedIn, so I’m assuming that’s why it came up second in the results. Result 4 is a pdf version of my resume that I uploaded as part of a blog I created when I was a journalism major at the University of Florida. I’m guessing it appeared so high up in the results because it has a high page rank. What I had never noticed before was the Google+ box that popped up on the right-hand side of my screen on Page 1. At first, I was worried that my personal Gmail address could easily be found by people who were Googling my name, but then I realized that, thankfully, only I could see those results.
Results 5 and 6 are my Google+ and Pinterest accounts. But result 7 from the WhitePages wins the creepiest award! Not only does it include my age range, but also full names of “people I may know”, including my mom, dad and sister. Results 8 and 9 are accounts that I set up for work.
The images that popped up when I Googled my name were either pictures of me, pictures that had been featured in newspaper articles I had written or pictures of people in my Google+ circles (Jason and Steven from our class made the cut!), which further emphasizes the importance of having a presence on this platform. In the fourth row of images, Google included pictures of people with my same last name, but I didn’t know any of them (Maybe they’re distant relatives. Who knows?).
Googling my Email Address
When I Googled my email address, eight of the 10 results were connected to me somehow. Among these results were my Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, a website I used to write for called “The Stinc,” a “Denver Post” article I was featured in and articles I’ve commented on for work. The only result that really through me off was Result 9. I have no idea who Jikai Chen is or why I appear on his page, but apparently he also went to UF.
The two results that didn’t have to do with me were of people with my same first name. What I found most interesting was that my actual email address isn’t publicly shown on any of these pages, but simply typing it in Google generated these results. In other words, Google knows that that email address is associated with me.
Google is only as powerful as we let it be. If you’re careful about what you do when you’re online, it’s easy to maintain a good online reputation.