I Google myself, I’m sure you do too.
In fact, it’s good practice to Google yourself and find your electronic trail. Sometimes it’s funny to see what comes up in the engine results; other times it’s using your harmless curiosity to make sure there isn’t too much information about yourself online. After all, you never know the crazies who are out there trying to find out identifying data about you or your family.
Generally, I Google my married name and my maiden name separately. I end up with totally different results. Last week, when I Googled my name, I found a Reunion.com entry that listed my married and my maiden name together, along with family, and other contact information that I have never, in my entire life, provided to them. I was piiiiissed.
I try to practice safe Internet-ing: never too much, never say where, be vague, and especially don’t talk about the Picasso you just bought and how it’s hanging in your dining room next to a window that’s always open; you know, the basics. Reunion.com has crossed the line: they are crawling over the web to pick up random pieces of information about you and coalescing it into one profile; one highly Google-able profile that anyone can use to find you, even when you don’t want to be found. Sure, Reunion.com says that this information is in public records already, that all they’re doing is gathering the info into one place. They’re right; it’s all in the public records.
However, there are some big problems with this active trawling:
1. You don’t control public records
You can’t control how your city, county, or state release information about your addresses, or residences. Most likely, Reunion.com is spidering your local government’s records and saving it for matching to your general profile. Since you have no say, you depend on how difficult it is to access this information for a regular bad guy.
2. Easier to get your information
Sure, all of those little pieces of data exist, but they’re everywhere. A person interested in finding you, or finding out more about you, has to do some serious research. They might have to go to lots of sites or services to find your data, pay money, and then try to piece it together. Reunion.com has taken the hard work out of finding you.
3. Can your profile be removed from Reunion.com?
Yes. Yes it can, but you have to CALL them, on the PHONE, and verify at least three former addresses.
Uh, that’s creepy. I just love handing out the places where I’ve lived, where I still might be living, to some random guy on the phone. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s also almost impossible to remember the addresses of places you may have lived 15 years ago. I find this their most egregious error. I have to take my valuable time and beg them to remove me from their database? My information? What jackasses.
4. Has Reunion.com always done this?
No. This is new. They only started doing this a little over a month ago.
What could I possibly gain from this arrangement? Allowing people to find me in an effort to reunite?
Keep in mind, that if I wanted to be reunited with these people I would already be in contact with them. Or, failing that, I could actually signup for their service and put myself out there as wanting to be contacted. I’m not even on Facebook, on purpose, because I want to control who can see and get in touch with me.
My hunch is that if enough people call them, write them, email them, and demand to be removed, causing a huge strain on their resources, Reunion.com might be less likely to continue to pull in this kind of person, identifiable information. Go ahead, Google yourself for once (and not your ex-boyfriend) and find out what Reunion.com is displaying about you!
Thanks for undermining my privacy AND SAFETY in the quest for your bottom line, you’re the best!
Apparently, they have a letter grade of 'D' at the Better Business Bureau. I'm far from the only one upset with Reunion.com.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I Google myself, I’m sure you do too.