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Jason Ogaard: Do you know your digital self? You should find out

There is more than one Jason Ogaard in the world. But there are only two — as far as I can tell.

I’ve never met the other ‘me’ nor do I know much of anything about him. What I do know, is that when I look for a job, potential employers will Google my name to see what they can find. When they do that search I want them to only find stuff I put out there. I don’t want them to find anything the other ‘me’ puts on the Internet.

Probably the largest driver of web traffic is Google. When a person does a Google search, there’s a great chance they’ll click on a few of the first results. Social networks such as Twitter have been able to gain extra traffic because tweets are public. Facebook and other networks tend to be more private. This private data is not indexed by Google and doesn’t show up in search results. Obviously, Facebook would like to get the same benefit Twitter does from Google searches. In the past, Facebook has revised its privacy policy and sometimes set users information to be public by default. This setting could be changed back to private, but a large percentage of users will not catch the change and leave their settings on public.

Every day, millions of posts are made to the various social networks. The content of these posts run the gamut from the mundane to outrageous and sometimes to profane and racist remarks. A large percentage of users don’t realize others can Google their names and find the remarks. Many others that do realize this, but they don’t have privacy settings set high enough to keep posts private.

The result could be lifelong embarrassment for a simple remark hastily made. You can delete your posts on these social networks but one only need to look at Twitter and the plethora of celebrities that try this. The celebrity deletes the comment but by the time they do, other users of Twitter have taken a screen shot of their post and put it up somewhere else. Now that comment will live on forever. Once something is on the Internet, it can’t be taken down. The saying goes something like this: “trying to get something off of the Internet is like trying to get pee out of a swimming pool.” Once it’s out there, it’s going to be in too many places to truly remove it.

For this reason, I am rather careful about what I post under my own name on the Internet. I don’t want potential employers to Google my name and find something they or I don’t like. This also makes the other ‘me’ in the world an issue. My name is unique enough that if you Google me, any results could easily be assumed to be me. For this reason, I quickly go out to any new service and take my name on that service. This ensures that any posts on these networks are my own, it also prevents anyone from trying to impersonate me.

What will people find if they Google you?

JASON OGAARD was born in Bemidji and is a software engineer for FICO, a Minneapolis based public company providing analytics and decision-making services, including credit scoring credit bureaus.