General Question

phoenyx's avatar

How much could someone learn about you from an online profile and google searching?

Asked by phoenyx (7374points) May 1st, 2009

Do you control what goes online? Do you care? Do you think someone could figure out who you are from your fluther profile?

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30 Answers

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

From my discovery of the internet in 96 and onward I’ve been paranoid about the information that goes on the internet. I don’t use my real name and never accurately fill out anything other than the basic profile. I think people are getting so used to the internet that they don’t think much about it anymore. It’s still true that anything you put on the internet could potentially be seen by anyone on the planet.. to me that’s a bit scary.

Of course, over the years a lot of information has trickled onto the internet through other means that I had no control over. Friends have put my name out there, local newspapers, phonebook websites etc….

Perhaps I’m too paranoid, but in this case I think it’s ok to be. If you think it’s ok that the world sees your information you should go to one of those sites that shows where all the pedophiles live in your area… do you want them knowing this stuff?

As far as someone figuring out who I am from my profile.. sure it’s possible.. but they would have to already be dedicated to finding me.. they would have to know things about me already.. or have a very sophisticated profile of their own built for me based on my online proclivities.

Part of the whole issue too, for me, has been that I have done a little programing in my day. Knowing what some of the coding can do is enough for me to be wary.

More rambling… some other things… the end.

Bluefreedom's avatar

If someone was determined enough, they could probably find out much more information about a person than you might normally suspect. Whether it be from hacking into a computer or already using software and Internet programs already out there to get the goods on someone, it all comes down to “if there’s a will, there’s a way”.

I’ve had my identity stolen in the past and I’ve also had one of my credit card numbers compromised that I used for online shopping in which case someone charged $600.00 on my Visa.

There just isn’t any reasonable expectation of privacy on the Internet anymore these days, in my opinion.

peedub's avatar

As far as I know, not much. Do I care? I’m not really worried about it. I do control what I put online but the details that escape my efforts towards privacy don’t say much about me.

A friend sent me this article recently, which made me (more) aware of the notion of Googling questionable unfamliars.

Mako's avatar

In my case, nothing of any use.

theartfuldodger's avatar

Not much… I also did a background check on myself, and there’s like…. nothing.

Divalicious's avatar

I feel secure with my Fluther profile. Our locations aren’t listed unless we post them. I like that a lot!

Like @Bluefreedom I’ve had my Visa compromised to the tune of $1320.00 so far. But I don’t know if it was a card reader at the gas pump or an online purchase that was my downfall. The bank blames Paypal, but my “Spidey-sense” was tingling after I’d already started pumping gas that day.

I used to have my phone number and address in the top 5 when I Googled my name, but that was 2 years ago. The info is many pages further down now, thank goodness.

Lupin's avatar

Fortunately my name is common enough so several other folks come up when you google it. I tell people “If you’re going to google me, I’m not the surgeon; I’m not the christian spiritualist; I am not the writer of that book; and I am not the fat tattooed guy on the Harley in Texas.”
I do keep live google and yahoo alerts on for my name so I can see when it pops up legitimately.

iquanyin's avatar

google yourself! nothing beats first-hand knowledge. btw, unless you’re a kid who wants to meet ppl via net, why would you care about pedos seeing your info? i’d worry more about thieves. in fact, why would you think ppl online are more dangerous than elsewhere? and—with exceptions—i don’t see folks judging character especially well in person. and i’ve personally chosen to interact with ppl i know from traditional ways even when it was a known fact that they were in some way dubious, and i’ll bet i’m not alone on this. why? because i feel i’m charmed and shrewd, of course : ) am i? no. and i’m unlikely to be alone on that either. my point is (a) always find out for yourself if you can, and (b) being fearful of “perps du jour” may not be the best use of one’s time.

DragonFace's avatar

Im a ghost. Nobody can figure out who i am. Not even my own family.

MissAusten's avatar

I have a very unique name—if I google myself, I’m the only person that comes up. Little of the information is personal though, and most of it has more to do with my husband than me. Someone could use google to find my facebook account, order the book I co-authored with my husband, see references to me in articles about my husband, and find some links to posts I made on my husband’s forum for artists. An online search of my name would make it appear that I need to get my own life!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Years ago when I Googled myself, my church & place of employment were the only two things that would come up. Now, nothing does. My last name can be spelled several different ways & it immediately comes up “did you mean….” I want to say ‘noooo, damn it! If I’d meant ***, I’d have SAID that! I think I know how to spell my own name!” I can’t find me in there anywhere anymore, which is fine with me. As for my fluther profile, I very much doubt that anyone could figure out who I am. Those I WANT to know, I tell. Some people on here know exactly who & where I am, but 99% don’t.

aviona's avatar

They could see my finishing times in high school cross country races along with a local charity run. They could see my name printed in my cousin’s obituary. And apparently I have a blog I never used?!
And then results about my dad (an author) begin coming up.

I do care about people being able to pry into my personal life via the internet and Google, which is why I am careful as to what I put out there.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Well if you google my username you’ll probably get all my other accounts (flickr last.fm etc) cause i use the same name for everything. If they put enough time into it they could probably figure out who i am. Probably just through fluther searching though cause i have quite a bit of info about myself on here. Do i care? Not really. Aside from figuring out my age or the area i live, i dont think they could get much more, but then again meh, i have nothing anyone would want anyway lol.

casheroo's avatar

It’s difficult to find me, by googling my name..because I have one of the most common last names in the US (i think..it’s pretty damn common) But, my married name is not common at all, anyone with it, I’m technically related to. But, there isn’t much on my husband on the net. There’s stuff on my father in law, but he was the county public defender, and my husband shares the same name as his father and grandfather (different middle names)
I’m really not concerned about that sort of thing. My biggest issue with information I shared on the internet has to be when I left my online journal public. It was public as I was going through the whole becoming an adult, so all of that was public. I regret that a lot. It’s now private, but I’m sure people could find old entries somehow :( I don’t like when my past is used against me.

wundayatta's avatar

My name is so common, and everything about me on the web is under one pseudonym or another—that you can’t find much on me. It’s probably also a sign that I don’t do much of importance.

El_Cadejo's avatar

OMGZ squirbel just tracked me down through google and found out my AIM. ZOMGZZZZZZ must delete all public info….....

oh wait i dont really care about it…..

SuperMouse's avatar

I was surprised when someone was able to find my address and phone number with relative ease. I am unlisted, but she sure enough showed up at my house and called my home phone, my cell, and my ex’s cell. Who knows if it came from the internet. I have kind of accepted the fact that there is going to be stuff out there that people can learn about me and there really isn’t much I can do about it. I do keep pictures of my kids and their names off the internet though.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, I do care because I want people to find my website. I made it to the top 10 results, but there’s a lot of competition.

Do I think someone could figure out who I am from my fluther profile? Probably, yes.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

People would find out some things but not all
if you google my name, you’d find various mentions of me from science presentations to signed petitions to giveing a quote for cnn.com

wundayatta's avatar

Meet Matt Browne

Matt, doncha just love the free publicity!

mattbrowne's avatar

@theartfuldodger and @daloon – Aha! How did you get there? Via Google? Or my profile? Just curious. I’m not the only Matt Browne.

wundayatta's avatar

I followed @theartfuldodger‘s link to Amazon, which has a link to your website, which, of course, has your profile. I’ll bet @theartfuldodger might have searched on Matt Browne and Science Fiction, since you’ve been pretty obvious about being a published writer. Hang on, I’ll check….

Yup, you’re the top hit! Although it takes you directly to your website. From which you can get to your book.

In fact, you’re the top many hits. You do get around, don’t you? Bio’s everywhere. Your work history. You lead a public life—or, at least, that which you are willing to put online, which is probably a lot more than most of us.

theartfuldodger's avatar

Nah, my keywords were matt browne and his school, and intranet service provider

I was trying to choose a combination that could only bring up one person.

wundayatta's avatar

Ooh! That hurts! (A review of his novel.) Andrea Johnson is harsh! She didn’t have to do that.

mattbrowne's avatar

@daloon – Yes, it’s part of the game. Some are harsh, some are more positive.

More keywords on Google will narrow the results of course. But without the science fiction part there are other Matt Brownes favored by the page rank algorithm. Some important websites must link to them.

theartfuldodger's avatar

h8r’s r evryware

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

When I googled my name, a comment I made on a photographic site came up on the first few pages and that was all. Everything else was just my last name, or my first name not attached to my last name. My last name is pretty common (not as common as Smith or Jones, but close) so googling me is like googling Pat Wood. There are hundreds of us out there.

I have access to software that will let me do background checks on just about anyone I want, but I have never had a reason to use it. I’m not curious enough to check out people without just cause. I did run my own name through it and found at least five people with the exact same first and last name as myself. Dopplegangers abound everywhere!

aviona's avatar

In terms of my online profile I don’t have much personal information on my Facebook. No address, no phone number. Just my AIM screenname.

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