A few days ago, I decided to take the advice of one of my journalism teachers and do a Google search of myself, using my full name. My teacher told us that when companies these days are looking at job applicants, they sometimes will do web searches of them to find out what can be dug up. Apparently it helps them narrow down job applicants.
So I did just that- I typed my full name into Google. I didn’t assume to find anything particularly weird or negative (things like pictures of me with my top off in a bar; drunk, torrid rants on Facebook about an ex; you get the idea). I don’t do that stuff. So I figured I had nothing to worry about.
But what I did find made me very uneasy. There were search result entries of every comment I’ve made on anyone’s blog! I wasn’t surprised to find my own blog, but I didn’t expect to find my comments on other people’s blogs!
When I contacted the WordPress Help section to ask if comments could be blocked from search results, they said no because it’s Google that’s doing it, not WordPress. WordPress doesn’t have control of that. Even worse, those search results don’t ever go away! It’s all archived, I guess.
That’s why I’ve decided to no longer use my full name as my username. Now, I just use my blog’s name as my username, Illuminate by Tanya. (The username is the name seen when someone posts a message on their own blog or someone else’s blog, not the name of the actual blog). For those of you who do use your real names, I suggest using a different name from now on. At least that way, it will be more difficult for someone to track all of your comments if they tried.
Does this make anyone else uncomfortable? If so, maybe we can all try to contact WordPress to see if they can find a way to block Google. With Google being such an effective search engine, however, it may be out of WordPress’s hands. But we should try, anyway. If enough people complain, they’ll be more likely to do something to remedy the situation.