I gave an assignment to my classes which they submitted late last week in which they were to "Google" themselves and find out what they could find out about themselves. They were also to check their MySpace and/or Facebook profiles to see what a person just browsing the Web could find out about them. I also gave them links to government databases of various states so that they could check the information available for viewing there.
Many of my students found very little about themselves; others found a great deal of information about themselves or about their families, some of which was disturbing to them.
Any time that I reveal personal information about myself, I am very careful to weigh that and its potential consequences. I'm simply not comfortable putting too much into one post about myself. When I choose to reveal something, I make sure it is something that I'm comfortable revealing and that there is a point to revealing it.
I do not like to blog about living persons. Most of the time such persons remain unidentified by given name in my posts if I find it useful to include a slight mention. Many of you may have noticed that when the carnivals are on topics where I would have to reveal personal information about a living individual that I have not participated in that carnival.
I simply read about too many security breaches involving too much personal information. Take for example a post that has been in the news this last week. Gov. Sarah Palin's email was hacked because of information in a news story about her. Apparently her password was too easy to guess and a hacker cracked into her email account. Those of us here in East Tennessee are far too well acquainted with the story as a student at a nearby university appears to be the chief suspect in the breach.
I do reveal information about myself in the blog, but that information is revealed over a long period of time. I am not criticizing those of you who have chosen to reveal personal information, but I also do not criticize persons who choose to blog anonymously or under a pseudonym. For a long time, I simply signed my articles with "Lori." I ended up signing articles with both first and last name because it became common knowledge because other bloggers revealed my identity. We, as bloggers, need to be sensitive to the privacy of our fellow bloggers as well.
When is the last time you checked to see what personally identifiable information about you was available out on the Internet? Is there enough there that someone could assume your identity if they so chose? If so, you better be studying up on what to do if your identity is stolen! [Class dismissed.]