Friday, January 14, 2011

Google Keywords: Invasion of Privacy?

Our privacy is our biggest concern when we’re on the internet. We feel vulnerable and at times, we feel we’re being ‘watched’ by Big Brother. And we are. Depending on ‘who you are’, is a matter of if they’re paying attention or not. For instance, Google logs every single word you type into their search engines. It all gets saved on a huge database. Sometimes, it’s even used if an employee of Google sees, “how to commit suicide” or “I want to kill someone” - this will sometimes be a cause for alarm. What about the little guys like me who blog and have Site Meter or stat counter of some type? Many people who are not that familiar with how the internet works usually do not realize how much info they’re putting out there for people to see. This is one of the reasons why I was able to tell a blogger that I was in a heated debate with, how long he was on my website as well as how many page views he had. I told him what computer he was using, part of his ip address, as well as his internet provider. I was surprised, because being that he was also an avid blogger, he didn’t know I could gain all that info from my own website. Most bloggers can.

The sad part about all of this is when I see someone type into Google, “how to commit the perfect suicide”. It directs them straight to my blog, because I wrote an ‘inspiring’ post called, “The Perfect Suicide” - about recreating myself - not killing myself. I have tons of hits because of this one title. I was shocked at first, but more so, sad that there are so many people hurting out there. The one good thing about it is --they came to a place where it encourages them to recreate themselves, instead of someone else’s blog with a lesser value of life. So, with that I’m grateful. I’ve had quite a few strange keyword searches, from foot fetishes, Smurfette photos, to someone questioning if their cat is a lesbian. It’s crazy. The most search words that are linked to me are relationship-type ones: “volatile relationships”, “how to detect manipulation”, “is homosexuality a sin” and “can our deceased loved ones visit our dreams”. Many of them are questions that the normal day-to-day person would never discuss with their own best friends. It’s interesting to trek through the searches from my Site Meter and discover what people are looking for. This morning, I found a hit to my blog from the Bronx: “trying to come out of the closet”, which led them to me.

With all that being said, I hope that I haven’t made you feel uncomfortable about reading my own blog now. Granted, I don’t have all the information - just the keywords that people use to get to me. A few of my friends have ip addresses that are located in California, but they are actually working from their offices located in New York City. The ip address is not necessarily ‘where they are’ - it’s where the provider or central office is, so it’s not exact. My own ip ranges from New York City to towns located in New Jersey. Another thing I have learned to do is to log out of my Yahoo or Gmail account while searching for peculiar things, or things you wouldn’t want other people knowing about. And yes, from time to time we all do it. The reference url can be traced back to your email. Regardless, 98% of the time they don’t care what you type, but if you’re typing words that borderline something “threatening” - it may come back & hit you in the ass. Watch for those keywords & happy surfing! And hey, you never know, you might just come across my blog.

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