Google launched an online reputation-management tool for the masses called "Me on the Web". The tool is part of the Google dashboard amid analytics and account information.
“In recent years, it’s become easier and easier to publish information about yourself online through powerful new platforms like social-networking sites and photo-sharing services,” explained Andreas Tuerk, a product manager at Google.
He acknowledged that way to manage your privacy on these sites is to decide who can see this information, determining whether it’s visible to just a few friends, family members, or everyone on the web. But Google is taking a different approach. Me on the Web is not a privacy tool.
Using a Pseudonym
As Tuerk sees it, another important decision when publishing information on the web is choosing how you are identified when you post that information. That’s where Google is focusing its efforts.
“We have worked hard to build various identity options into Google products. For example, while you may want to identify yourself by name when you post an answer to a question in a forum so that readers know the response is reputable, if you upload videos about a controversial cause, you may prefer to post under a pseudonym,” Tuerk said.
He explained that 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. When someone searches for your name on a search engine like Google, Tuerk said, the results that appear are a combination of information you’ve posted and information published by others.
Monitoring Your Rep
Google’s new tool aims to make it easier to monitor your identity on the web and to provide easy access to resources describing ways to control what information is on the web. This is a supplement to Google Alerts, which lets you set up notifications for mentions of your name or e-mail address in web sites and news stories. Using Me on the Web, Google now automatically suggests additional search terms you may want to monitor.
“Me on the Web also provides links to resources offering information on how to control what third-party information is posted about you on the web,” Tuerk said. “These include common tips like reaching out to the webmaster of a site to ask for the content to be taken down, or publishing additional information on your own to help make less-relevant web sites appear farther down in search results.”
Google hinted that Me on the Web is just one of the first steps in continuing to explore ways to help make managing your identity online simpler. And Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, said the move is long overdue.
“It’s a good idea for Google to do this since they have such a bad rap with regard to privacy. Anything they can do to address the privacy concern will likely offset this impression that Google has a disregard for privacy,” Enderle said. “This is something they should have done a decade ago, but better late than never.”