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Big Brother is watching – How to hide yourself from a Google search
While Google search is mostly a force for good, the all-seeing all-knowing eye of the search engine also knows our darkest secrets. From embarrassing teenage blog posts and defunct social media profiles, to the trail of photographic breadcrumbs from a drunken night out – if you’re not careful online, it could get messy.
If you’ve got something to hide, then, it might be time for you to get off the grid – you can take the Ron Swanson approach, or follow this simple How To guide.
1. Google yourself
If you’re going to try hide yourself from Google search, first you’ll need to know what you’re up against. Scan the first few pages of search results to see if and where you appear – just make sure to use quotation marks when entering your name to narrow the results. Remember, everybody uses Google, so think carefully about how your online footprint might be seen in a professional context.
2. Hide yourself on social networks
Making your Facebook and Twitter accounts private should be your first step to getting off the Google search grid. It’s easy enough to do, just edit the privacy options in the settings menus and – on Facebook – make sure everything is set so ‘Only Friends’ can see. As well as your own profile, it’s also worth thinking about what you post elsewhere on Facebook and other networks, as anything posted in public groups will still be accessible via search engines.
3. Stop using your full name
If you’re worried about colleagues finding your college photos, then one option may be to use an abbreviated version of your name. Whether it’s social media, online forums or a personal endeavor, using a different alias online will stop you from showing up in Google search results.
Alternatively, if a stranger who shares your name ranks highly on Google and you’re worried about causing confusion, think about adding a middle name or initial online to differentiate yourself.
4. Contact webmasters
Content on the web isn’t always in your own hands, and if your picture or personal information appears on somebody else’s site it’s trickier to remove it. However, sending a polite e-mail to the site’s owner or Webmaster should usually be enough to have the offending content removed. Don’t be too heavy handed in your request, it’s likely to be easily resolved and you don’t want to aggravate the person holding the power.
5. Create Content
This may seem contradictory, but a great way to manipulate Google search results is to take control of your online presence. Even if you aren’t going to use them, create Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles as they rank highly in Google and will push other results down. You may also consider creating a professional blog or website to further refine your online presence – making sure the results you want rise to the top.