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by James Perrin on 17th June 2011
According to Google’s Blog, the tool has been created in light of the way information about anyone can be published on the web with consummate ease. Google have created the tool to help monitor you online identity, however will this latest tool allay privacy fears or simply enhance them?
The tool has been included on the Google Dashboard, where users can set up search alerts for specific data within your Google profile – that means you need to have a Google profile first of all. You can customise your alerts, so whenever your name, telephone number or e-mail address has been mentioned, you’ll be notified about it.
A similar facility has already been made available with Google Alerts, where notifications can be set up every time a name or e-mail address is mentioned. However ‘Me on the Web’ appears to be a much easier way to monitor this and even suggests ways to control third party information.
As Google explain, “Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update.”
Not only can you manage your online identity, but you can also remove any unwanted content from Google’s search results. There is more information regarding the processes for this on Google’s Webmaster Tools.
On the surface of things, this tool could prove to be an absolute godsend. You can keep an eye on what is being said about you from all over the web, helping to facilitate personal reputation management. However looking a little deeper, people are beginning to question Google’s methods and ultimate intentions.
The way this tool works is that Google sends out its Google bots to search and collect as much information about a particular person. You are then sent an e-mail whenever a specific mention has been made, as found by the bots. Google’s tracking of their users seems to have gotten even more pronounced, yet legitimised with this latest tool.
So is it all bad? Well another way of looking at the tool is so that it can combat online vigilantism, where a single person has been held to ridicule. In some recent cases, people have been wrongfully accused of scams or unlawful activities – in which case an online reputation management tool would prove to be a huge benefit to those feeling the brunt of criticism.
Furthermore, this can be hugely beneficial to organisations and businesses, especially for employees within those companies. This kind of technology is already being used in terms of brand management services, but the extension to personal identity management is certainly going to raise a few eyebrows.
The issue of privacy is certainly a hot potato at the moment, with constant attention on the way companies like Google and Facebook collect information about its users [See: Is Facebook’s Facial Recognition an Invasion of Privacy Too Far?] and [See: How Vital is Private Search? ‘Very’ Say DuckDuckGo]. However will Google’s latest feature appease those worried about privacy issues or just heighten their fears? What do you think? Leave a comment…