CheerslogoIf you’re old enough, you might remember the TV series “Cheers”, that famous Boston bar where the regulars came to get away.  And where everybody knew their names – Sammie and Diane, Cliff and Norm, Dr. Frasier and Carla and Woody and Rebecca.  And we were always glad they came – because we came to know all about them, and couldn’t wait to find more about how their private lives and hearts intertwined and broke each week.   Now some 30 years later, we still know their names and a lot about their personal TV lives…

Hmmm…  Kinda sounds like what the Internet does to our private lives today – the Internet, where everyone knows our name and the cyber crooks are always glad we came….

Have you ever done a search for yourself on the Internet?  If you haven’t give it a try and see how easy it is for everyone to know your name…  and other stuff – personal and private stuff.  To help make your name known, information vacuum cleaners are sucking up data all over the internet about you, cleverly combining the bits and pieces they acquire to provide robust profiles about you – easily available and often for FREE – on the Internet!

As an FYI, here are two sites that might know your name.  Maybe you should get to know them and find out how much they know about you: 

This is what they say about what they do on their ABOUT page:

Spokeo makes it easier than ever to help reunite friends and family, browse celebrities, and discover information about your online footprint, by simply searching a name, address, email, phone and username.” 

Oh wow, isn’t that nice of them!  They are helping everyone know my name.  And I didn’t even ask them to do this for me…..  And, Oh, they seem to know more than my name….

The partial good news is that you can “Opt Out” of being listed on their pages. Under the “PRIVACY” tab on their website, you can find out how they gather their information; but more importantly, you can follow the directions to remove yourself from their postings.  It is only partial good news because your opting out of their site won’t remove you from other third party entities that used them to know your name….  To their credit, Spokeo tells you this also on the Privacy page.

Here’s another site to check out that may have checked you out.   This is what they say about themselves and their mission:

“The most comprehensive people search on the web.  (That is people, like in PIPL – my note).

We dive into the deep web to bring you results you won’t find in any other search engine then we use a powerful identity resolution engine to link those seemingly disparate results into a set of meaningful profiles so you can easily find the person you are looking for.”

If you are wondering what the “deep web” is – that’s the part of the world wide web where data is “buried” – as in data not organized in a way that common searches can find it but definitely findable by skilled information seeking robots.  And the info they vacuum can be damaging.

Now, all this freaks me out a bit.  Much like the way social networking freaks me out.   All the information we put out on Facebook and LinkedIn, for instances, so that people will know our name – they know our name all right.  And more and more…  Brings to mind another song line – “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…”

So all this is to say, we need to BE AWARE and BEWARE of how we want people to know our name in cyberspace.  We need to be selective about our information and vigilant about how to protect it.   Understand that cyberspace is not a safe space, that there is no such thing as privacy in cyberspace and nothing is erasable from cyberspace.

So having everybody know our name, well, that may be more dangerous than famous.  To paraphrase the first line of the song –

Making our way in the world (wide web) today could take everything we’ve got…..