Just in case you have ever thought about it (or never have), in cyberspace everyone sees what you type, eventually. The other day I quickly subscribed to a newsgroup about Mercedes Benz classic cars (I was doing some car research – even IT people can like cars – but I suspect I’ll never get to own the car). About a week later, casually typing my name into Yahoo (as you do) suddenly brought up my membership of this group. I do this occasionally because the spelling of “Micheal” is unique and therefore actually returns entires relating just to me, rather than, say, if my name was John Smith – it’s good to know who has your details.
In this instance, I had only signed up very quickly to read about the great and wondrous things that can happen with a Mercedes Benz 450SLC (in case you’re wondering, they come in two categories: (a) expensive; and (b) marriage-threatening). It took about thirty seconds to “subscribe to our site” and now that site has my details cached in Yahoo and it will probably be there for ages yet. I’m just glad it wasn’t a support group for strange and debilitating infectious diseases that you can catch from unsanitary telephones.
But – I should have already learned my lesson, as the same search on Google shows an entry that I’m probably not too happy about! I was on a mailing list some time ago (like, 1996!) and responded to an email (foolishly using my real name). That mailing list diligently archives EVERY email ever sent to it, and accordingly Google has now cached it and it will be there forever now – it’s unlikely I can get it taken down.
As an exercise for the reader, see if you can pick up the page I’m not happy about from the link above.
So – a salient lesson in being careful on the internet.
(Postscript: I had forgotten the “findoz” website that is returned by this search – this is NOT the mailing list to which I was subscribed, I have no idea how my professional profile manages to get mixed up with “hard core DVDs” on the findoz website, and I have a feeling there’s another salient lesson there somewhere!).