Have You Googled You?
You might be surprised what turns up. Sure, you've registered on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and maybe a few business accounts. And, you have your web page. But there are other sites that might just have your information too. Information you didn't realize was out there.
A story on AOL caught my interest today and I wanted to share some high points in summary.
The official term is "aggregator". An aggregator, according to Wikipedia, is the name given to a web site, or software that collects, filters and organizes specific information, in this case, found on the Internet. Think of a tiny robot that compiles phone directories, business website information, social media, photo albums, government surveys, real estate listings -- you get the idea. And advertisers can actually BUY this information from these aggregator companies and use it for their marketing focus.
Think about some of the information that can be found about you online: age, marital staus, phone number, children, interests, estimated income, photos, even aerial photos of your home.
Think of that information in an even more negative light: income + house photos + family information = too much information for burglars, predators, and worse.
These are some of the sites that could have profiles stored with your information: ZabaSearch, RapLeaf, Pipl, Intellius, PeopleSearchPro, Spokeo. Most of these sites have information or links to help you in removing this information from online sites. However, you must remove your information from every site, or trace information back to its origin - like the White pages - if you truly want to erase your private information.
Here's one thing you can do on your very own. Google your phone number, with the area code. Your name, address and a map will come up too. In case you didn't know, you can request to have that information removed.
Google your email address. It's very likely you'll see all the times you entered your email online. Did you advertise on Craigslist? Leave a message on a public forum? It's on there! ( Realtors: It's also a good way to check the validity of leads that come across your web site. I recently received a lead for a home purchase - but the same email address was asking online for free diapers and formula in Washington State this past fall. ...Probably not a qualified buyer.)
There are a few online companies that can help you with your online information. ReputationDefender.com, Defendmyname.com, ReputationHawk.com and ReputationAccelerator.com. This isn't a sales blog for these companies, they are just companies that came up in an online search.
This subject is something that people don't always think about. Have You Googled You? With so much of our current marketing and networking, both business and personal, available online, it makes sense that privacy control needs to be developing right alongside.
Defend your privacy, defend your families. Realize that too much "transparency" isn't a good thing.