Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Googling the people you meet online

Remember Pablo? Well I once googled his name and found out a whole lot of information about him. I found out about the university he went to, his course of study, online projects he was involved with, an interview he had given to a journalist and that rap song he recorded a few years ago! He had no idea there was that much information about him available online by simply performing a Google search for his name.

I've googled the names of many of my online friends and I have found interesting information in many cases. There is one person who had a profile on a site that did not adequately hide its member's pages to the Google spiders and I was able to view information that should only be accessible by logged in members. I actually don't search for people hoping to find information they might be hiding from me but rather I search to find out about their online presence, how they reveal themselves on the internet. Indeed, most of the time the information available about you online is directly provided by non other than yourself, remember that the next time you fill out a form to register to this latest cool new website. It is a common practice for websites you join to make public the information you provide them, at least in part. Many websites do that by default, you have to explicitly tell them not to make your information public for them to make it private.

You need the person's full name to get a sure hit when you search for him tough you can still find the person with his firt/last name only if it's a rare one and if you have other specific elements to add to the query like his location, school or anything really specific that would help you narrow down your search.

You have to keep in mind that many people share the exact same name - in case you find out that the person you're searching for has a criminal history-. Unless there's a photo attached or some other specific personal information, you might not be able to tell for sure whether you've found the exact person you're looking for until you ask him or her about it.

Make friends Worldwide and don't forget to look them up on Google.

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