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Google can be scary... - MegaZone's Safety Valve — LiveJournal
The Ramblings of a Damaged Mind
Google can be scary...
I know this isn't new news, but I still find it interesting. So I was checking Match.com before heading home (yes, I have an account there), and there was a profile of someone who seemed rather interesting. She went to WPI, lives in Worcester, etc. Anyway, I idly entered the handle she used on Match into Google - which had a couple of hits. One to a forum where she'd posted looking for roommates, and included her AOL handle. Another for a roommates service where she has a listing - which has a map. Using the AOL handle (slightly different) gets more hits. And knowing she went to WPI made it easy to get more hits, find her legal name, her current employer, etc. I mean *trivially* easy - one search. I stopped there because I started feeling creepy and decided my fascination didn't need satisfaction, it just felt like I was prying into someone's life uninvited.

Now, I live pretty much wide open, even though I have already had a stalker and wouldn't want to repeat that, so I don't even try to make this stuff hard to find. I'm MegaZone pretty much everywhere, and my home and work info is all over the net. But it is darkly fascinating how simple it is to find out a lot from just a couple of crumbs of data and human behavior.

And since I gave her the URL to this LJ in the email I sent, she's probably reading this and deciding I'm psycho or something. I considered emailing her about it, but couldn't think of anyway to say "BTW, I Googled you and found out a lot of stuff you probably would be uncomfortable with me knowing already" - without, you know, making her profoundly uncomfortable.

At least I'm a White Hat - maybe a little dingy and gray in places, but still basically white. :-)

Still, overall, fascinating. I mean, just about everyone I know, myself included, will Google a job applicant before an interview. And it is common to Google someone before dating them now. I gave up on trying to keep things private a long time ago because it is nigh-impossible, but I do feel for those who either don't realize how powerful the tools are (or how much info can be out there), or who try to keep things private and get caught in the info web anyway.

Well, that's my thought of the moment...

Tags: ,
I am: hungry hungry
Current Media: ナイトセイバーズ: バブルガムクライシス COMPLETE VOCAL - First Impression

z_gryphon From: z_gryphon Date: October 5th, 2005 02:03 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
"If you don't want your words quoted, misquoted, misattributed, printed out, emailed, taken out of context, and archived on WORM disks in Pakistan, don't post to USENET."
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 02:11 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
True. If she wanted to be private then recycling a handle used elsewhere isn't a good way - it makes linking things easy (unless it is a very common handle).

But a lot of the data came up from things like her Sorority's news at WPI, a performance she was in, a paper she co-authored, her school's faculty list on their website, etc. Lots of stuff I bet people would never think of.
chemical_pocky From: chemical_pocky Date: October 5th, 2005 02:05 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Much agreed!!! I've gone through some effort in cleaning up my tracks on the internet, but I'm pretty sure there's still a couple of gems here and there. I always look up stuff on co-workers, friends, or people I like...it's notsomuch as a obsessive stalking thing as it is a "just getting to know you better" type deal.

If you're ever bored, feel free to Google me up...I'd be interested in knowing what pops up. I've conducted searches on myself before, but never wholeheartedly.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 02:12 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
The good thing about being named MegaZone is you'll get a ton of hits on the laser tag style game and the anime. :-)
(Deleted comment)
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 02:14 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
That's me. :-) I use my powers for good! Mostly.
also_huey From: also_huey Date: October 5th, 2005 02:16 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
While I was in the middle of a messy divorce, the biggest complaint that my soon-to-be-ex-wife made about me was that I was reading her email, and had proof of all of the infidelity before she actually admitted to it. I was completely castigated. "How dare you invade my privacy like that!" The nerve! She was cheating on me and I had the GALL to FIND OUT ABOUT IT!

Fast-forward a few years. I've moved on. I've accepted the knowledge that I did my part to earn my half of that divorce, and I'm applying those lessons to seeing that I don't get another one. And, thinking that it might be a good idea to extend an olive branch to the ex, I google her up to see where she is now. I find her LiveJournal, read the public posts to catch up on the minutae of her life since we parted, I shoot her an email, and ..."How dare you invade my privacy like that!" The nerve! She was living her life, and posting about it to LiveJournal, and I had the GALL to FIND OUT ABOUT IT!

Last I counted, I have roughly thirteen thousand easy-to-find usenet posts over the last eight or nine years, and maybe a thousand or two that are substantially harder to find, both there, and in Other Places. Some of them are deeply personal, some of them are touching, some of them are funny, and most of them are noise. And if I didn't want people to know those things about me, I wouldn't have POSTED THEM to the FUCKING INTERNET ALREADY, SHEESH.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 02:22 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Yeah, I've been online since 1989 and posting to USENet since about day one. Not to mention all the web forums, mailing lists, etc. Many of which have been archived and indexed. Have I said things I reget? Fuck yes. I've also said things I would smack myself upside the head for saying if I(today) were able to jump back to see myself(then). I don't necessarily have the same beliefs, thoughts, etc, as I did - I'm not the person I was yesterday, let alone 16 years ago.

But I know it is out there, and not all that hard to find. I've always been megazone@something - except my first job when I was brianb@xylogics.com - and I pretty much always use megazone for my handle, or zonereyrie when that is taken. There have been other megazone's out there, but not many. The main problem in Googling me are the hits from the anime and the laser tag style game. :-)
rabid From: rabid Date: October 5th, 2005 02:21 am (UTC) (Direct Link)

the living dead are also horribly rabid

just how many cool chicks DID you email tonight?
haha. me being one of course.. and not the wpi one.
but yeah.. i thought id say hi here.. screw match.com and their 3 day free trials that i will inevitably forget to cancel.
long live google and prying. i can be found all over the place if you know the right name..
if you're so inclined you can find me on yahoo as deadkyttn or aim as deadchickalive. rock on.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC) (Direct Link)

Re: the living dead are also horribly rabid

Honestly, four. I hadn't logged in for a while. Though two of those were women who said they were new to Worcester and still trying to find places to go, so I emailed a list of good restaurants and such to check out. Just being my helpful self. :-)

Even without the clever hint in your subject I'd know it was you. ;-) And I dig the Buttercup icon. Name - H. McT. One search on your yahoo ID to FoundArt.org profile to the MassArt portfolio, which had your name. The interconnectedness of things is fascinating.

I'll be back in a bit, need to pick up dinner and go home. :-)
kayselkiemoon From: kayselkiemoon Date: October 5th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
At least I'm a White Hat - maybe a little dingy and gray in places, but still basically white. :-)

hear, hear. because you gotta watch out for those Black Hats. they're everywhere. and out to getcha. *grin* have you read Heinlein's Number of the Beast? I love how towards the end things start spiralling completely out of control; such fun (with many Black Hats). ^_^

I haven't done this thouroughly, but entering "kate kayselkiemoon" gets 148 hits. entering my actual name (kate + last name) gets 13,000 odd. slightly less for katherine + last name. but I have no direct hits tying kayselkiemoon to my last name. *chuffed*

re: Magdalene Hsu-Li, the song I have is "Lillian" (from Evolution). I very much like it.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 02:41 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
My favorite of hers is 'Redefinition'.

I haven't actually read Number of the Beast... I suppose I lose geek cred for admitting that.
cos From: cos Date: October 5th, 2005 03:03 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
I've been posting on the net for almost as long as you (beginning of 1990), and at first it was a pretty small club. For at least the past decdade I've considered it pretty public though. I don't hide much of anything about myself anyway, and don't compartmentalize much, so I don't mind what people know and my stuff is very easy to find. However, partly for that reason, I sometimes don't think to google myself for years at a time. It's probably been a few years since I last did it, 'til I saw your post. I'm astonished at how broad a selection comes up on the first page of hits! Posts and emails spanning at least a decade, and a variety of spheres of my life: radio and music, geekery, grassroots politics, travel photos, all sorts of stuff shows up on the first page. I think that's nifty.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 03:45 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
It is nifty, I do it from time to time. It turns up stuff I've long forgotten.
spiderourhero From: spiderourhero Date: October 5th, 2005 03:21 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
I think I know how you feel.

I googled a guy I interviewed for a school project once. All I needed was his educational background for a short bio. But when I got on I found this long post by his wife about their stillborn child and how she still loves him even though she never got to meet him.

It's one of the saddest things I've ever read and I felt really creepy learning about it.

But I didn't want to have to call him back after the interview to ask stupid questions about his background... and Google-searching is just so easy.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: October 5th, 2005 03:46 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Yeah, it is very easy - and I think a lot of people do it.
xinie From: xinie Date: October 5th, 2005 11:56 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
This is where I should be glad that there are hundreds of other people with my married name...
romperwebby From: romperwebby Date: October 5th, 2005 03:32 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
a potential employer googled my name before our interview so they were anxious to meet me thinking i was some kind of slam-poet, or whatever they call them. i could tell they were extremely disappointed when i told them that that was not i. and no, i did not get an offer.
purly From: purly Date: October 5th, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
My boss refuses to do this for potential employees, so I usually do it. I've just attempted to go through the process of removing my name from my journal entirely, but it seems neigh impossible.