Do you manage your online identity?

9 05 2007

TechCrunch posted earlier today about the war around people search. This space has been heating up for awhile and is interesting to consider.

What is most interesting to me is what you do with the information that is harvested and displayed about you. It feels like you are being forced to participate in the various engines simply to keep the info displayed about you somewhat up to date and correct. I am 36 years old and find that I am on the edge of being comfortable with being so easily found. Now, obviously, I am on the “ok to be found” side of the fence. I wouldn’t contribute to the sites I do, let alone write information on this site, if my main concern were anonymity. I think most people in my age range would be on the “I’d rather not be found, thank you very much” side of the fence along with most people older than myself. I’m sure there are exceptions but my gut is the majority are not comfortable with being so easily found simply because their employer has an employee directory that they have to participate in.

So now we have what might feel like a problemĀ 

Maybe you don’t want to be found. You stroll over to Google and do a search on your name, because everyone does it, and there you are. Three links down on the first page of results is your name, your company and your title from three years ago. For a moment you’re concerned that this is indeed you but what is really bugging you is the title. You don’t want anyone that might be searching for you to think you haven’t changed roles in three years do you? I know it’s not about the title people. It’s about the job you do. This is just an example.

So what do you do about it? Do you leave it alone or do you claim your identity and update the information. Maybe the site has a way to remove you from the database once your identity has been confirmed and you go that route. Which way do you go?

Myself, I’d update the information. Depending on which site has my information I might remove it, or request for it to be removed, depending on their reputation.

This is an interesting problem and one I think many people will really struggle with. The difference between those that are freaked out by it and those that are comfortable with it is knowledge. There are ways to work the system. There will be sites you want to be a part of. Once Google and the other major search folks decide to really step into the ring things will even get more interesting.

Which side of the identity fence are you on?