Have you ever googled your name? Most people have searched for their name across the Internet. But, have you ever Google Image searched your name?
A few months ago, Facebook faced criticism from privacy activists after they changed privacy controls, and opened up profiles for easier searching of friends. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, published an essay with a philosophy that the more people share about themselves, the more connected the world will be. Apparently, this philosophy transcends to how Facebook shares information with their partners.
If you Google Image search your name, you will be surprised to see your Facebook profile pic all over the place. My privacy controls on Facebook are locked down accordingly with all the restrictions I can place. Yet, if I Google Image search my name, my profile picture from Facebook appears. How is this possible?
According to Facebook’s Privacy FAQ, “Any content that is available to "everyone" is considered public information. To help real-world friends find you, your name, profile picture, gender, username and networks are always open to everyone.” Which means in simple terms, that your profile pic, gender, username and networks do not have any privacy controls attached to them. Whatever you choose as your profile pic will be indexed by search engines.
What does this mean for you?
If you are concerned about privacy, simply do not use a profile pic. Another option is to change your profile pic to a cartoon or avatar.
A word of advice? Don’t put your kid’s pictures in your profile pic. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable having someone Google Image search my name, and it shows the world all the pictures of my kids.
Perhaps the trend of using a cartoon from your childhood as your a profile is not such a bad idea.
The bottom line?
If you are really super paranoid, and don’t want your information anywhere on the Internet, stop using social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace. If that’s not possible, at least limit the amount you expose on your profile.