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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SSQuo said...

A few months ago I read an article about people 'Catching the bus' and look for partners to do it. Complete strangers even with one common goal - to commit suicide.

"It's a special date for me. I was born on the 30th of January. I came in on the 30th, so I will go out on the 30th. I've never been so excited," she wrote.

It is bizarre and more importantly very very sad.

Deb said...

Wow, that article was heartbreaking. The guy who joined her wasn't even known to be depressed. Scary thought...

Xmichra said...

I have had all sorts of weird google searches land on my blog too, but the most 'hits' are from my posts on suicide as well. I have noticed lately that the trend seems to be 'suicide prevention' rather than 'how to comit suicide'. Makes me feel a little more hopeful at least.

the walking man said...

Thank you Deb. Now I will log out of my gmail when searching or researching anything. Got your nice letter yesterday or thereabouts. . Thank you. Bets to my favorite knuckleheads.

Deb said...

Xmichra, I always feel helpless when I see someone logging on to get serious help, but hopefully they'll log onto one of my 'better mood' posts.

TWM: I'm glad it got to you! I was worried because the mail has been slow. I can't wait to get both your books! We're very excited. Thank you. Now log out of your Gmail NOW! ;)

~Just me again~ said...

It is a scarey jungle out there. I'm sure Google isn't the only one. The others can do it too.

John McElveen said...

Great stuff Deb!!!


Anonymous said...

ok, who am I?

Deb said...

GW Mush. ;) Those who use AOL typically don't have a "location" - it's all generated by lat/long - even if people in New York or in Utah are using it. Same thing. But you seem to go under the same descriptions, same times, even if you do say some awful thing in my comment section. I forgive you though. How are you? ? (Commercial)
IP Address 207.200.116.# (America Online)
ISP America Online
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
Lat/Long : 38, -97 (Map)
Language English (U.S.)
Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Internet Explorer 7.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; AOL 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)
Javascript version 1.3
Resolution : 1291 x 807
Color Depth : 32 bits
Time of Visit Jan 18 2011 5:28:06 am
Last Page View Jan 18 2011 5:29:55 am
Visit Length 1 minute 49 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Out Click 7 comments
Time Zone UTC-6:00
Visitor's Time Jan 18 2011 4:28:06 am
Visit Number 215,405

Rhonda said...

Keyword search is exactly how I came upon your site today. Took me to a post from 2006.

Deb said...

Oh that's great, Rhonda. Thank you for sharing that. It's interesting to see what people type in to get here. :)

Deb said...

P.S. Rhonda, I saw what you Googled - I'm glad someone else goes through the same thing! lol