Monday, 5 September 2011
Your online dating profile might be carefully crafted, and your photo especially chosen to be taken from your best side, but have you considered your dates might have other ways of discovering the ‘real’ you? While you might forget, the internet always remembers, and Google never lies. In fact, in a recent eHarmony newsletter poll 71% of you admitted to googling your dates before meeting them. Here’s our quick guide to making sure Google doesn’t interfere with your dating life.
Your life…for all to see
The internet has changed our lives, but the fact is that with a quick search query we can find things out about people they would never have wanted us to know. If you’ve ever had to interview someone for a job, you may have looked them up online, and you might have stumbled across some information they didn’t want you to know – whether that’s photos of them doing something questionable, or their most recent Facebook status update saying they’ve lied on their CV…
A quick test
1. Go to Google (or any other search engine of your choice).
2. Type in your full name, and put it in speech marks e.g. “John Smith”
3. Press enter
Now you should see some search results, and there are two ways this can go. If you have an unusual name, it’s much easier for someone to find things out about you online. But even if you have a popular name (like John Smith) someone with just a few more details and enough patience will probably find the John Smith that’s you.
Look through your results; you might find some entries that surprise you. Do you remember writing that Amazon review? Did you really post on that forum about your favourite cheese? Why is THAT photo online for all to see?
What does it all mean?
Well, what it all means is that your potential online date can find out a lot more about you than you wanted them to know straight away. For example, if your Facebook profile isn’t protected then they might easily find embarrassing holiday pics of you on the beach. More importantly, with a little digging, they might be able to find your personal email address, home address and even phone number. These are all details online profiles can ask for, and sometimes these aren’t kept private.
Get back in control
That said, there are some small things you can do right now to stop you being so ‘googleable’. Here are our top tips:
• Change your Facebook privacy settings. If you have a Facebook page – and chances are, you do – make sure you’re only revealing the things you want to. You can have pretty much any level of privacy you want on Facebook, right down to being completely invisible and only being able to friend request people yourself.
• Only reveal information online that you’d be happy for a complete stranger to know. For example, you probably don’t need your mobile number on your Facebook profile, so take it off.
• Where possible, use a pseudonym. If you’re a regular poster on online forums, give yourself a screen name that’s unrelated to your real name.
• If you do need to give out an email address online, create a new one that’s only for casual use. Make sure it doesn’t use your full name, and that way no one would be able to trace it back to you.
• Google yourself every now and then. If you find information about yourself in the results that you’d rather stayed private, then go to the website, or your account for that website, and remove the information.
In the end, it’s down to you how much information you give out online. There’s no reason to remove every trace of yourself, just make sure your date only ever finds out the things you’d want them to know!