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To Google Friends Or Not To Google, That Is the Question

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the how-about-just-asking dept.

Google 117

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Henry Alford writes that in an ideal world, we would all use Google to be better friends by having better recall and to research our new friends and acquaintances to get to know them better. 'It's perfectly natural and almost always appropriate,' says social anthropologist Kate Fox. 'Obviously, one is always going to have to be discreet when talking about what you've found. But our brains haven't changed since the Stone Age, and humans are designed to live in small groups in which everyone knows one another. Googling is an attempt to recreate a primeval, preindustrial pattern of interaction.' But the devil is in the details. If we tell a new friend that we've read her LinkedIn entry or her wedding announcement, it probably won't be perceived as trespassing, as long we bear no ulterior motives. If we happen to reveal that we've also read her long-ago abandoned blog about her cat, we're more likely to be seen as chronically bored than menacing. 'I'm so baffled by this idea that we're not supposed to Google people,' says Dean Olsher. 'Why would there be a line? Like everyone else is allowed to know something but I'm not?' But doesn't taking the google shortcut to a primeval, preindustrial pattern of recognition sometimes rob encounters of their inherent mystery or even get us in trouble? Tina Jordan, an executive in book publishing who has the same name as a former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner, says, 'I typically tell any blind dates before I meet them that they probably shouldn't Google my name, otherwise they'll be sorely disappointed when they meet me.'"

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I fucked (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41795925)

I fucked ass! I fucked ass!

Jesus can see inside my underpants!

So let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41795941)

You're seriously asking if one should dig up shit about one's friends or not, as if that was a valid question?

Are you insane?

No really: Are. You. Insane?

Friends are people that you *trust. Do yo know what trust is?
Trust is when you don't know, and rely on somebody anyway.

If you can't rely on your friends... then sorry... but they are not friends.

And to be frank: The one thing missing from today's society... is that we aren't friends anymore.
Because some clinically insane psychopaths... care only about money... above all else...
and we are stupid enough to hold that up high, as if it were an ideal.

Re:So let me get this straight... (5, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#41796055)

You're seriously asking if one should dig up shit about one's friends or not, as if that was a valid question?
Are you insane?

Perhaps they meant "friends" (of the Facebook variety) rather than friends (real ones that you meet in real life).

If anyone I care about had any online-only "friends", I'd probably consider it wise if they Googled such "friends" and still kept them in the dark about private items. On the other hand, I'd consider it curious if anyone were to Google their real friends.

As TFS and TFA said, we're wired to have a relatively small group of friends whom we know quite well (and who know us in return) through regular exchanges in real life. All others are merely acquaintances (like members of a neighboring tribe whom we hear about but rarely encounter), even if deceptively labeled as "friends" by network or workplace. The friend word is really being abused nowadays.

Re:So let me get this straight... (3, Insightful)

war4peace (1628283) | about 2 years ago | (#41796221)

The term "friends" lost all its weight since the advent of Social media. I resist this trend, that basically imposes the fact that any whoever who adds you to their account (or you add to yours) is a "friend". I call bullshit.

Re:So let me get this straight... (4, Insightful)

OldSport (2677879) | about 2 years ago | (#41796523)

Basically this is why I cancelled my Facebook account. I keep in regular touch with my actual friends regardless, and all the noise from those relatively meaningless acquaintances is cut out. This is what was once known as "normal life." (For the acquaintances with whom I do want to maintain a contact channel for whatever reason, I have a LinkedIn account, which I basically only look at once a month, if that.)

As for Googling people, all I can say is some people have too much time on their hands. I'm either working, playing, or spending time with my family. I don't have the time to play cyber detective, and even if I did, I couldn't really give two shits about digging up dirt on people.

Re:So let me get this straight... (5, Interesting)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | about 2 years ago | (#41796599)

The alternative, in the case of friends whose preferred form of communication is Facebook, is to use Facebook exclusively for actual friends. I don't add people I met online (and rarely even know their real names). I don't add friends-of-friends. I don't even add relatives of friends unless I know the relative personally. I don't add people I have encountered briefly in the recent past. I don't add people I went to school with and now don't remember their names or anything about them. With two or three exceptions, I don't add people I have never met in person. I don't add people who work at the same company I do (some 2000+ employees worldwide) unless I actually work with them on a regular basis.

The result? I actually know and care about and trust the people I call friends on Facebook, and have no trouble calling them friends in the classic sense. Facebook, like any other tool, can be used to improve your life or destroy it. Unfortunately most people can't tell the difference and allow it to do more harm than good.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 2 years ago | (#41798463)

You forgot "make your account private" and "stop most Facebook apps from ever interfering with your account". Apart from that, what you said :)

Re:So let me get this straight... (4, Insightful)

OldSport (2677879) | about 2 years ago | (#41798793)

You forgot "every three months when Facebook decides to change their default privacy policy and app policy."

That might be my problem, though. All my actual friends barely use Facebook (if they even have an account) which gave me a pretty low S/N... Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 2 years ago | (#41799869)

Facebook, like any other tool, can be used to improve your life or destroy it.

Agreed. Which is sort of why I don't bother with a Facebook account at all, while my wife, who does, seems to be quite good at keeping only real friends as FB friends.

Getting back to the googling of friends, it seems to me that the usual rule applies: if there's something you don't want to appear on the internet, then keep it offline. And, of course, be very careful to make sure any Facebook users of your acquaintance are suitably discreet about your taste for ostrich pornography. :)

Re:So let me get this straight... (3, Funny)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 2 years ago | (#41799991)

The term "friends" lost all its weight since the advent of Social media. I resist this trend, that basically imposes the fact that any whoever who adds you to their account (or you add to yours) is a "friend". I call bullshit.

I was once party to a conversation in which one of my workmates mentioned that a certain semi-famous actress and writer (Felicia Day) was a friend of theirs. One company director who was also involved in the conversation and a big fan of Felicia Day appeared very impressed. The nature of this 'friendship' very quickly became clear and I exclaimed "ohhhh you mean she's a name on a list on one of your social networking sites?" My workmate was not terribly happy. But it was hilarious.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798069)

nowadays? Clearly, it has been a long time since a woman told you "let's just be friends."

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796179)

You trust friends, not aquaintances. Finding out about someones past is a vital step of someone becoming a friend you can trust. Of course, there's a difference between facebooking them and stalking.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796209)

Googling is not "digging up shit". It is googling and there are no analogies to it, no historical activities equal to it. No, not even a car analogy. If someone puts something in internet, then it his fault for putting it there. Then anyone can see it there without digging up anything. They just google it and there it is.

Moreover, how lazy can people be if typing words in Google search gets equal with shoveling manure? I'm not asking are you insane, I'm asking are you that lazy? Do you break sweat while using internet?

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41797289)

Googling is not "digging up shit". It is googling and there are no analogies to it, no historical activities equal to it. No, not even a car analogy. If someone puts something in internet, then it his fault for putting it there. Then anyone can see it there without digging up anything. They just google it and there it is.

Moreover, how lazy can people be if typing words in Google search gets equal with shoveling manure? I'm not asking are you insane, I'm asking are you that lazy? Do you break sweat while using internet?

This kind of rationale is why its a bad idea to say this is just natural primeval human behavior at work on the Internet. Totally benign. There should be a standard for privacy that is fought for. Instead we get some dipshit academic child-woman logic seemingly advocating the continued evisceration of rights to privacy. And fu weasel bs mod moron.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

pegisys (1616521) | about 2 years ago | (#41798419)

This kind of rationale is why its a bad idea to say this is just natural primeval human behavior at work on the Internet. Totally benign. There should be a standard for privacy that is fought for. Instead we get some dipshit academic child-woman logic seemingly advocating the continued evisceration of rights to privacy. And fu weasel bs mod moron.

Isn't the concept of privacy lost when you put that information online? To me it's the same as announcing something in a news paper and then hoping no one you knows sees it. If there is something about you that can be easily googled then it's not private and in this day and age you shouldn't consider it to be.

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799915)

Googling is digging up shit when someone asks someone else for someone else's full name when they only know someone's first name, then they try every Google service until they find dirt.

Re:So let me get this straight... (2)

someones (2687911) | about 2 years ago | (#41796255)

Have you heared of the term "better safe than sorry"

/devil's advocate

Re:So let me get this straight... (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41796643)

The information you find on Google is hardly trustworthy anyway. If you google my name you will find some religious nut job spouting rubbish that I would never endorse. Due to having a name that is associated with that religion though you would be forgiven for assuming it was me if you were a potential employer.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796737)

Mittens, is that you?

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796647)

That isn't trust. It's *apathy*.

If you want to trust somebody, you first have to doubt them. Take a deep look at their heart, and try to understand who they are and what they're feeling. Humans naturally will hide their fears, their pains, their sorrows.

If you don't care enough about your friends to try to ACTUALLY understand them, instead of ignoring their true selves under a veneer of faux 'trust', how can you really call them 'friends'?

Re:So let me get this straight... (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41796749)

Is typing someone's name into a search engine 'digging shit up' about them? Anything a search engine can find about me is likely to be stuff that I've intentionally made public, and so it's stuff I'm happy to have friends do it and potentially discover mutual interests that just haven't come up in conversation. It's not like paying a PI to follow someone around...

Re:So let me get this straight... (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41796987)

"Intentionally"? Why do you keep using that word? I do not think it means what you think it means. I've found out by googling my name that Google indexed all of my Picasa photo albums with my REAL NAME attached online. I use it for all kinds of joke images I create for online forums, quick pic linking etc. Luckily there was nothing bad there, but lots of people do what I did not knowing the unforeseen consequences of the total information awareness era.

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799775)

Just because you didn't read the terms of service doesn't mean they don't apply.

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41797023)

Please stop misusing me.

Sincerely, ...

Re:So let me get this straight... (2)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#41797051)

Are you insane?

Have you noticed a shift in the types of questions we're getting as Slashdot was last purchased?

My guess is that some those questions are completely made-up and that they're based on the new owners' mistaken belief that we are all still a bunch of nerdy social retards.

And granted speaking for myself at least, I was indeed a clueless social retard, but that was around twenty years ago. And some time between twenty years ago and until now, I grew up, I grew up at least a little bit. And I suspect that many of my fellow Slashdoters have as well. And it's not that we don't have an incoming flow of teenagers frequenting our site, I'm sure that we have some. It's just that the overall tone of Slashdot has been set already, and it's going to be an uphill battle for the new owners if they really want to change that tone to the one they really believe it should be instead.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

Velex (120469) | about 2 years ago | (#41797685)

My guess is that some those questions are completely made-up and that they're based on the new owners' mistaken belief that we are all still a bunch of nerdy social retards.

Yes. Not only socially retarded, but also somehow arrogant or the "brilliant jerk" for instance.

It seems like it's an attempt to troll out all the outraged responses of geeks pointing out all the ways that stereotype doesn't apply to them. Let's face it. Computers are sufficiently advanced technology; they're magic. Folks who can't figure out how to wield the magic get jealous, and they place personal blame on the wizards that the computer gods favor.

It's the "teacher's pet" dilemma. Why is one the teacher's pet? Because one is well-behaved, attentive, and does well on homework and tests. Why isn't the cool kid the teacher's pet? Because the cool kid is rebellious and represents feelings that others have but don't want to verbalize or act on. Why doesn't the teacher's pet do what the cool kid does, then? Because the teacher's pet doesn't want bad grades. So, the teacher's pet continues to be the teacher's pet regardless of what the teacher may want or intend.

We know that's how it is. If I could go back, I'd stay as far away from IT as I could. I've seen this time and time again. When I'm in a non-IT job, others find me a good listener and someone they like to be around. As soon as I become responsible for some computer system working correctly, suddenly I'm the brilliant jerk all over again.

I'm at least fully aware of the animosity directed at me because the computer likes me and does what I ask it to do but freezes and crashes for everybody else who isn't the computer's pet, and stories like this one seem to just be trolls meant to pick at that and laugh at us for not being cool.

Return to pre-20th century accountability (5, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 2 years ago | (#41795949)

As I wrote two years ago here, 20th century anonymity was an anomaly [slashdot.org] .

The return to societal accountability will be a good thing, in my opinion, but the panopticon that prevents business and political trade secrets and that immortalizes peeping-tom photos will be bad things.

Dream on (3, Insightful)

Snaller (147050) | about 2 years ago | (#41796089)

Not one of the people I know have a "presence online" - Google may know about them because they use Android, but they have no profiles on plus, facebook, myspace or anywhere else, they do not post updates about themselves constantly and if i google their names i get someone else with that name.
And only small fry will be held "accountable" the big ones will continue to get away, as they always have.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796391)

Everybody makes mistakes, people's memory gets fuzzier and dimmer over time. Life moves on. Now, a mistake you make when you are 14 can haunt you for the rest of your life. How is this better?

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (2)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 2 years ago | (#41797819)

Now, a mistake you make when you are 14 can haunt you for the rest of your life. How is this better?

When you go to apply for a job, they ask, "Do you have any convictions other than traffic violations?" That's because traffic violations have always been public record. When teenage indiscretions become commonly known, society will adapt to what level of indiscretion is acceptable.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (1)

knorthern knight (513660) | about 2 years ago | (#41798383)

> When teenage indiscretions become commonly known,
> society will adapt to what level of indiscretion is acceptable.

Are you in a position to hire people? If you found out that a job applicant had previously offered to give away customer data at another company (emails, pictures, addresses, sns), would you hire him? Especially if he admitted the charges were true? http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/09/20/100920fa_fact_vargas?currentPage=all [newyorker.com]

> ZUCK: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard
> ZUCK: just ask
> ZUCK: i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns
> FRIEND: what!? how'd you manage that one?
> ZUCK: people just submitted it
> ZUCK: i don't know why
> ZUCK: they "trust me"
> ZUCK: dumb fucks

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796561)

So your opinion is that privacy for individuals is bad, but privacy for corporations is good? Nice.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796633)

His opinion is that everyone should fit into the same mold -- exactly the same as what government has taught him since an early age. He is stating his preference for conformity over individualism, but what he doesn't realize is that his preference for conformity wasn't really "his" to begin with.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 2 years ago | (#41797691)

So your opinion is that privacy for individuals is bad, but privacy for corporations is good?

"Business" != "corporations"

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (5, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 2 years ago | (#41796707)

Your take on anonymity in that old post remains just plain silly.

...anonymity was unique to the 20th century. In the 19th century, due to transportation constraints, everyone knew who you were and what you did.

No. Just...no.

Even in the late 19th century and certainly for all of history preceding that time, anyone who wanted anonymity could simply walk away. I've often thought that if I had been born in 1830 or so on the east coast of the U.S., before I reached my 20s I would have started walking west. I might have died in the first week. I might have achieved great things. I'll never know.

I do know, however, that anonymity was easily achieved in those days. Walk 10 miles, make up a new name for yourself, forget your past, and keep walking. Lather, rinse, repeat as often as your own personal demons or desires drove you to do so. Anonymity just came with the territory.

What we are facing in the near future is historically unique - a true, inescapable loss of anonymity made possible by a panopticon that never forgets, that is even learning to recognize our faces. That, imo, is a truly scary prospect.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#41796919)

Spot on.

No mod points today, alas.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41797489)

As far as that particular period of American (in the broadest possible sense, relating not just to the terrority of the modern US but to "the Americas") history goes, you're right, but that hasn't been the norm in most of the world for a very long time. Ever since we settled down and started farming, most people were born, lived, and died within a day's walk of the same spot. Even before that, I suspect, most people lived their lives surrounded by more or less the same people, even if the location changed. There have been very few times in our history that complete personal reinvention was both possible and survivable. It's probably not surprising that we romanticize those periods, but that shouldn't keep us from remembering how rare they really are.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (4, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 2 years ago | (#41797779)

It appears you're trying to make my point for me.

Ever since we settled down and started farming, most people were born, lived, and died within a day's walk of the same spot. Even before that, I suspect, most people lived their lives surrounded by more or less the same people, even if the location changed.

Exactly. Most people don't care about anonymity and thus it has always been rare. It was less rare over the last few hundred years but it's always been uncommon.

Uncommon. Not impossible. Big difference.

Illustrations? Here's something random - a quote from Tom Horn:

There were many different branches making up the Apache tribe. There were the Tonto Apaches, San Carlos Apaches, White Mountain Apaches, Cibicus, Agua Caliente (or Warm Springs), and last and worst of all were the Chiricahuas. All of these Indians spoke the same language, but were divided according to their dispositions. Thus a bad Tonto would leave the Tontos and go to the Cibicus or the Chiricahuas, and a timid Chiricahua would move to the Tontos, so at the time of which I am writing, you could find a good Indian or a bad Indian by knowing to what tribe he belonged. They all wore their hair different, and for one accustomed to them they could be told apart as far as you could see them.

That's just one example of the fact that it's always been possible, even in small societies where everybody knew everybody, to re-invent yourself and leave your old persona behind.

Changing your surroundings, your people, and achieving anonmymity has always been possible. It's just never seemed particularly worth the trouble except for a few folks who *really* don't fit in.

Thus the stage is set for today where not enough people understand or value anonymity enough to fight for it despite the fact that it's on the verge of ceasing to exist, a sea-change in the human condition brought about, uniquely in this age, by technology.

I love tech because I know how powerful it is. At the same time, it's something easily perverted to nefarious purposes that will be damn near impossible to resist once they take hold. I find your throw-up-your-hands-and-surrender attitude (to paraphrase, "Anonymity is a historical blip. When it's gone, no big deal") sets my teeth particularly on edge this morning. I think you're wrong but I apologize if I've been a bit rude in the way I expressed that conclusion.

At least I didn't quote LBJ to make my point; I'm not going to be that much of an ass.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41798603)

It appears you're trying to make my point for me. ... to paraphrase ... At least I didn't ...

Wow, you've really memorized the sophist's playbook, haven't you? Um, congratulations, I guess. You might want to consider a career in politics.

Anyway. I'm not the OP, and you shouldn't confuse us; my post was intended to endorse neither your view or his, just shed a little historical light on the matter. Which, BTW, your bit from Tom Horn (not exactly the most reliable of sources, I suspect) doesn't, particularly--assuming that what he says is true at all, it's a good bet that everyone in the various Apache bands knew perfectly well who their neighbors were and where they had come from. The situation he describes is more akin to the modern process of moving to a different city. You can certainly do that, and try to blend in with your new environment and not talk much about where you came from, but that's very different from true anonymity, which usually only exists during periods of mass migration. And even there, you're talking about a degree of freedom that hasn't been available to most of the people who have ever lived.

Personally, I recognize anonymity and privacy as historical anomalies and still think they're good things and worth preserving. There are lots of things that fall into this category: democracy, scientific medicine, and nearly instantaneous worldwide communication are three obvious examples out of a great number. I just have very little patience with arguments in favor of anything, even things I consider good, which resort to spurious history to bolster their points. Try arguing your positions on their merits, not on the basis of "as it was the old days ..."

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798689)

Starting over is still possible to a degree. Changing your name divorces you from your net history, for example. A generic name drowns your personality in the sea of like-named John Does. Discretion does wonders. Sanitation is slightly possible (many major sites do have mechanisms you can use to have them take your info down). That, plus moving and changing habits and modifiable physical traits (hair, beard, style of dress, makeup shifts), and you can fade back into the proverbial woodwork.

I completely agree that contemporary anonymity ain't trivial, and it'll get worse moving ahead. But packing up / moving / changing your name has always had difficult downsides, including the difficulty of carrying along professional credentials so you didn't go from MD to ditchdigger when you left it all behind.

To be fair, the best path to anonymity has always been to not get noticed in the first damn place.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41797373)

As I wrote two years ago here, 20th century anonymity was an anomaly.

Human civilization is an anomaly and unsustainable. So what if there's an anomaly in that anomaly.

Re:Return to pre-20th century accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41797375)

As I wrote two years ago here, 20th century anonymity was an anomaly [slashdot.org] .

The return to societal accountability will be a good thing, in my opinion, but the panopticon that prevents business and political trade secrets and that immortalizes peeping-tom photos will be bad things.

People with rose colored shades need to be reminded that overall, humans can be petty, vindictive, evil little shits, & and many are lacking any moral compass, are violent, formed gangs, and crime syndicates globally and in political power. So try and remind yourselves why privacy really is important to everyone, and not just to you in your tiny little feather pillow universe.

Thank god it's not called "Fondle"... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41795957)

"Googling is an attempt to recreate a primeval, preindustrial pattern of interaction."

Yes, I, too, long for the good ol' days of yore when we all used AltaVista...

Because it's weird (2)

DaveGod (703167) | about 2 years ago | (#41795959)

It's just weird to go making an effort hunting down info on people's past. Wedding announcements and LinkedIn profiles are either pushed to you or stumbled across.

Also, people change. People also say things that they were happy to say publicly at one point in time, that now they might not. Not necessarily because it's inherently embarrassing or whatever, but the context changes with age and environment. Maybe what was written at 17 isn't something you particularly want someone to read now you're 27.

I guess there's also a weird power/balance thing going on when one person has read up on someone's history, and the other hasn't.

Re:Because it's weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799813)

So why did you post it all over the internet?
I google my friends sometimes just to see what shows up.
Sometimes we all google each other just to compare what shows up for who.
I've actually never found anything that relates to any of us, just people with the same name.
I really don't see the problem.
Besides, if my friends googled me and found some story about me being a serial killer or some crazy shit, I'm sure they'd call me and tell me about it.

No results found (2)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#41795971)

In order for someone to find me on Google they have to know such detail for the search terms that it renders the search pointless.

Re:No results found (2)

Nationless (2123580) | about 2 years ago | (#41798961)

That's you think Mr Alfred Bester. Earth Alliance Psi Corps. Psi Cops division, Level 12 Investigations. Licensed rating P12.

Oh... wait...

Google Doom (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41795977)

"I typically tell any blind dates before I meet them that they probably shouldn't Google my name, otherwise they'll be sorely disappointed when they meet me."

    I have mastered the Art of Disappointment; I don't need Google for that.
    But on a related note, a malicious person spent a fair amount of effort salting Google against me, anonymously. Fortunately, my name is uncommon enough that a renowned, blameless, Indian cook probably bears the brunt of the pain. (My professional name retains untouched.)

   

Re:Google Doom (2)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | about 2 years ago | (#41796673)

When I google someone, I cross-check the results against what I do know about them and/or include things I know (such as the city where they currently live) in the search terms, and I filter out anyone that is obviously not the person I am stalking... I mean, getting to know better. As often as not I have an email address, and I simply google that.

Ten years ago, I wouldn't find much if anything, except for the few people who had a blog. Now, it's almost always their Facebook page.

When does it cross the line? I wish I knew. I'm not trying to dig up dirt; I'm genuinely interested in knowing more about the people I meet and I figure if they posted it in public it's not meant to be a secret. But I think I disturbed someone the other day when I blurted out "So, you're a Canuck!" at a meeting -- I also was born in Canada and her Facebook page (which she does not limit to friends) mentions a school in Ontario she attended. I've sent her a few emails since (including one that explained why the subject came up) and she has not responded to any of them. oops.

Google and shut up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41795985)

Oh hell go ahead and Goggle as you know would were going to anyway... and just keep your mouth shut.

Re:Google and shut up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800017)

Yes, Google them and spread the news about any dirt you find, but then don't wonder why they never even acknowledge you ever again.

Truly, the OP is no friend of whoever they want to Google, go dwell in the past and leave them to find real friends in the present.

Googling (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41796023)

And once upon a time you could move to a new town and start over if you screwed up too bad.

By this point silly things you do with your buddies will be online for semi-forever (however long it takes the website and mirrors to fail). Then you get bored "Google Monkeys" (my term) who would have been nice to you but they saw you wearing the dead cat stuffed animal on your head first.

Getting it wrong... (5, Insightful)

Nemosoft Unv. (16776) | about 2 years ago | (#41796031)

I don't know about you, but this strikes me as odd:

"Henry Alford writes that in an ideal world, we would all use Google to be better friends [....] to get to know them better."

Why would I use a computer to get to know a friend better? Wouldn't it make much more sense to actually *talk* to them, let them (and their friends) tell you stories about their past, including the embarrassing ones their friends and acquaintances will dig up for them (whether they like it or not :)). What's wrong with going to a bar together, go to their birthday party or join them for a weekend break? Isn't that what friends are for?

Re:Getting it wrong... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796059)

Plus a person on the web is unfiltered and fake at the same time. People I'm friends with in real life wouldn't be my friend if I based it on their stupid Facebook post.

Re:Getting it wrong... (3, Informative)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41796129)

Yeah, now Google Kim Stafford and Tea Party and then you know every HR person she ever meets will do the same.

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/10/internet_fail_the_truth_about.html [al.com]

Re:Getting it wrong... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41797521)

Wow, that's one of the most extreme cases of Poe's Law in action that I've ever seen. At least it sounds like she's taken the right actions to correct the problem as much as she can; hopefully future employers will take this into account.

Re:Getting it wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796169)

A person that feels the need to "investigate" me (read: judge me) above and beyond personal interaction is a person I don't care to be friends with in the first place.

Re:Getting it wrong... (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41796183)

I was thinking the same thing.
Also most of my friends I could not find anything that I either did not know or did not need to know.

And reading a LinkedIn entry? Seriously? I know that some of them are at least partly untrue. And why would I be ripping open old wounds by talking about her/his dead cat?

When I was working in a hotel, they told me to wear a name tag. I asked why. They told so people would know who I was. I told that if people are interested in me, they can ask me.
When forced, I just put in my last name. An other co-worker put in Me and others put in things like "My Fathers Son". After two days we were allowed to take them off.

And as a customer, I do not need to know your name. Bring my food and go away. If I become a regular, I will ask for your name and you can give it to me or not. Your choice. Standard procedure between human being.

Re:Getting it wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796439)

Because you only have a limited amount of time to spend with your friends, but like two hours before and after you go to sleep every day alone in front of the internet?

Re:Getting it wrong... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41796543)

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who saw this and went "what the hell?"
 
Our pre-industrial pattern was to seek out information about people either from them personally or from personal interactions with other people. Not to obsessively gather information anonymously.

Re:Getting it wrong... (2)

antdude (79039) | about 2 years ago | (#41798561)

Because they are too far, too expensive, too busy to hang out in real-time, etc.?

Quiet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796041)

Hey be Quiet, you joke about things you cannot afford!

Best Regards,

Geezer

so trust first hand information more? (2)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41796061)

So in the imperfect world we go out and meet people, listent to them, try to get a feeling of who they are and how they might fit into our lives. When we are younger we interact in groups and observe how others interact, learn to do so ourselves. We try to believe what we see and feel more than what others tell, but will listen to what other trusted friends say if we are in a emotional state to do so.

But instead we are to google potential friends/mates/bed mates/spouses and believe what we read. Believe that what they posted is more of a truth that what they tell us. That what some stranger wrote about them should effect our feelings. Sure, one can argue that 'if I had only googled I would not be married to a serial rapist', but really was there no clue in conservations or actions. Would accusations on line really have overcome the desire for partnered life that all so often clouds all other good judgement?

And the reason that doing a background check on a friend or whatever is considered in bad taste, and google has just made this easier, not possible, is that it is a violation of trust. When one has a person sitting there, why not just ask? Why do we need to go to our smart phone? Is it that we won't trust the answer? In that case there are problems that a background check won't solve. Linked in and facebook, those are for people in our lives who are strangers or perhaps who have become more strangers than friends. It is for young people who have not developed any significant relationships. It is for parents who want to keep track of their kids, who are moving from a dependency where the parent knows everything to a dependency where secrets are kept. Or for keeping up with people who you have sex with on an occasional basis.

But in now way is google going to let us have better friends. A good friend is not going to be based on total recall. A good salesman who can maximize purchases needs this. Perhaps if one just uses friends for cash and rides this would be useful. But people like genuine interest that falls from genuine interaction, even if that interaction is not always authentic. Maybe search engines will let us have more friends, one for each specific situation. Maybe it will let us have encounters without wasting money on drinks that do not produce desired results. Maybe, in some abstract technical sense, we can be matched up with a friend that is our perfect companion. But what fun would that be.

Reliability v Gossip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796063)

The Hopi indians had an enhanced lexicon for the reliability of information, particularly when speaking about water. 1st hand, 2nd hand, 3rd hand information, how old it was and how reliable the source was judged to be all could be described using specific words.

One thing I notice about information on the net is that everyone concedes its questionability, but even with all the social networking technologies and speed at which information travels, there's little enhancement to out net based systems that would foster a sense that some sources are more equal than others.

Why is that? Googling was forever changed once it went commercial and catered to the ad/marketing schema, steering eyeballs to the highest bidder, that notwithstanding the famous Page ranking system. But socially speaking, we all know that some people repeat anything just to be in the loop. Where's the earned ranking system for social media sources that might inform us about gossipers vs. authorities?

Ain't no one gonna tell me it's not possible?

Re:Reliability v Gossip (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#41796265)

The Hopi indians had an enhanced lexicon for the reliability of information, particularly when speaking about water. 1st hand, 2nd hand, 3rd hand information, how old it was and how reliable the source was judged to be all could be described using specific words.

The origin of information reported is part of the morphology in Hopi, not the lexicon. It is reported by specific morphemes, not specific words. Any language can report such things with specific words, e.g. English "Mary is pregnant, I saw it myself" versus "Mary is pregnant, that's what John said."

Furthermore, morphological encoding is hardly unique to the Hopi, as this typology is found in languages all over the world (including a number of European languages). See Aikhenvald's Evidentiality [amazon.com] (Oxford University Press, 2005) for a survey. No need to patronizingly romanticize Native Americans.

Google them (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796081)

Nothing beats knowing a person without talking to them. In fact, you don't even have to meet them once you've googled them, which is going to be great during flu season, or any time for that matter. Sure, you might have a totally skewed perspective on your "friends", because they're not the same person online, but that's a small price to pay for not having to talk to people, right?

If you put it out there (4, Insightful)

hack slash (1064002) | about 2 years ago | (#41796085)

You shouldn't be surprised when people view it.

Re:If you put it out there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796177)

Maybe you didn't put it out there. Maybe it is a douche bag with the same name as you who works in the same town. Maybe a "friend" posted your pic and tagged it. Maybe a reseller has incorrect information about you.

Grow up. Or should I say wake up?

Re:If you put it out there (1)

hack slash (1064002) | about 2 years ago | (#41796399)

Unfortunately there's no sure way of stopping someone spreading negative information about you (wether true or not) even before the days of the internet. However the less you act like an ass the less chance any negative information about you that's 'out there' is actually valid and your true friends will know that that information is wrong.

Re:If you put it out there (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41797519)

You shouldn't be surprised when people view it.

Most of what's out there isn't by the person's choice -- crappy privacy controls, people reposting, revenge photos, and leaked e-mail signatures... most of what google picks up about the average person was put there by a corporation that is trying to monetize that private data by making it public.

Re:If you put it out there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41799861)

Literally all of the things you mention are by your own choice.
Crappy privacy controls: don't use the service
People reposting: don't post shit you don't want read.
Revenge photos: don't let people take pictures of your crimes, or other compromising situations (this is basic shit man, even before the internet)
leaked email signatures: don't post shit you don't want read.

The only thing you have no control over is someone telling lies about you.

Re:If you put it out there (1)

afgam28 (48611) | about 2 years ago | (#41797609)

Well yeah, in that way the internet is the same as real life. If you do something in public, you shouldn't be surprised that people see it.

But it is still super creepy if some acquaintance of yours knows every detail about what you do in public.

tina jordan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796105)

Uh, i wouldn't even go to that date, after googling Hefner's Tina Jordan...

God dammit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796133)

What the fuck is wrong with people these days? If you want to get to know somebody better, TALK TO THEM. Why is it that the internet has made people forget how to socialize properly?

Um, no, get a clue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796137)

The way that you get to know friends is by spending time with them, engaging in activities with them and talking with them. That is called "friendship". And if you have to google that, you are beyond hopeless...

Kate Fox? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796279)

Kate Fox sounds hot, I think I will google her.

Re:Kate Fox? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | about 2 years ago | (#41796463)

Kate Fox sounds hot, I think I will google her.

I think that it is a KDE text editor plugin for Firefox.

Depends on the type of friends (1)

Clsid (564627) | about 2 years ago | (#41796345)

If I know a person in real life I don't need to Google anything, I just ask them, and if cannot ask them I shouldn't be asking for answers in Google since it is none of my business. People have a right to privacy, even from their friends. Being a friend does not entitle you to know everything about your friend.

Now if we are talking about online only friends, I think the most acceptable thing to do is just read whatever they have in their Facebook profile, pictures, etc. That is information people wanted to share with their friends to begin with. But as I said, if you just want to know more, just ask. I have always been a straightforward kind of guy and the most trouble I have gotten into so far is by talking to friends who were fighting with each other and getting asked to choose sides.

Not the Same (1)

BaldingByMicrosoft (585534) | about 2 years ago | (#41796395)

General searches will tell you a lot more about what somebody was like in the past. People change... particularly over the course of decades. And now we're accumulating those lengths of histories on the 'net.

Also, some sources will reflect who you are in relation to the theme or concept you interacted with. LinkedIn is a great example -- it tells how a person is when they're posturing for job contacts.

I do also agree with some of the previous statements regarding trust, as it's the basis of any relationship.

And social accountability? I'm reminded of that phrase, "None of us is a dumb as all of us."

Maybe there are some positive use-cases to this concept. But there are definitely some huge pitfalls. No panacea of human matchmaking will be found here. And our propensity to attach a label to someone -- "they are a ..." -- based on something they did in the past and then never re-evaluating the person they've become... It's pretty lame. It's like we can't be bothered to find the reality of a person. And I can see this amplifying that propensity.

I am so baffled... (1)

sleepypsycho (1335401) | about 2 years ago | (#41796549)

I so baffled by this comment: 'I'm so baffled by this idea that we're not supposed to Google people,' says Dean Olsher. 'Why would there be a line? Like everyone else is allowed to know something but I'm not?'

Googling someone and reading things they have posted is not so good but not too bad either. People probably expect time and obscurity will make them anonymous to future acquaintences.

Looking through everything that is available through google or on line is like rifling through someone personal papers on their desk. You might find some payroll item on a persons desk at work, or you might find letters at someones home. Both are way out of line. You have access to them but not because the individual expected you to access them. There is no law preventing you from reading the material but you are breaking a social contract. It is OK for everyone else to know something because it can't be prevent. This is not the same as it is OK for my friend to dig for dirt on line.

I do Google a couple fo friends occasionally. These friends will sometimes be interviewed or have a lecture posted. I assume I don't hear from the them directly because they assume I am not that interested. I get the benefit of hearing more about my friends. These are current presentations of themselves and we have been close friends for a long time. So I think I am not crossing any lines. I could imagine cases when even doing this would be somewhat unappropriate.

Common names (3, Interesting)

Guru80 (1579277) | about 2 years ago | (#41796581)

Thank God for having a common name. Let's face it, the ONLY reason "friends" or acquaintances Google you is to find the dirt you have revealed for whatever reason to use your past to judge your present. I've seen it happen time and time again.

Re:Common names (3, Interesting)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41797003)

Agreed. The only legitimate reasons I can think of for googling an acquaintance is if you're about to enter a business relationship or you're a woman going on a date with a man you don't know well. I'd never google a friend's name unless they told me to to look at a link (and that has happened before).

False positives are the bane of "big data" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796717)

False positives are the problem. Is that me you're googling, or someone else? The "big data" world is accumulating gigantic databases of junk data about people.

Re:False positives are the bane of "big data" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41796959)

Google also has a bad habit of adding "suggestions" to instant search. When you google someone enough times, you can create horribly bad suggestions connected with that person. This is a huge danger .

I have had it happen to me - thanks to the scientology cult my name is tainted with horrible search terms. I have had several employers HR departments asking about it.

Example: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/09/26/french-court-convicts-google-ceo-eric-schmidt-of-defamation/ [cnn.com]

English names makes it useless (0)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#41796789)

In the English world, namely the US and the UK, it seems that everyone has the same name. As a result of this, you simply can't look up someone on Google or anything else.
It is extremely inconvenient.

Couldn't you people try to get unique last names at least?

Re:English names makes it useless (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41797007)

You need to move out of your gated community if you think that.

Guess I'm Lucky (2)

Tempest_2084 (605915) | about 2 years ago | (#41796921)

If my name is plugged into Google the first two or three pages show results for people who are a LOT more interesting than I am (one guy even has a really cool looking band). Last time I looked the top result was a vice president of some large chemical company. Thankfully my real self doesn't show up for a few pages and even then it's nothing I wouldn't want out there.

Google PR marchine hires anyone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41797005)

This guy make no sense and is just one of those google hired guns....
There is no bad PR as long as people talking about you.......

What I found on myself (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41797027)

Tons of forum posts on techie sites, but also a lot of first page links to a guy with my same name who live<s|d> about 20 miles from my home town with a prison record. Luckily, his picture is posted in all the links, but imagine the problems that would cause otherwise.

Re:What I found on myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41800511)

Beware the mistaken identity....
Sometimes it's hard for even background check companies to tell for sure: http://www.businessinsider.com/mistaken-identity-put-this-woman-on-the-streets-2011-12

Don't use google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41797425)

Don't buy microsoft and apple. Live an upright life.

Slashdot fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41797433)

Slashdot is now a pathetic joke, censored by Fry's tech support rejects.

The web is public access by definition (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 2 years ago | (#41797803)

I don't know about anybody else, but when I put something on the searchable web, it's because I want other people to read it, including (maybe even especially) my friends. Why would I be at all surprised or upset if they actually search for it and read it?

If you don't want people to find pictures of you you with that beer bong or in that cosplay fetish outfit, maybe you shouldn't have put them up on the internet in the first place.

Social Anthropologists are Idiots (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41797879)

It's not appropriate to stalk people online, except I am sure the nanny state would love for everyone to be trained that this is acceptable behavior, so they can "say something" if they "see something."

The way you get to know your friends better is to spend time with them and by being genuinely interested enough in them to ask open-ended questions and pay attention to their answers, and generally, you know, be a human being and a friend, not a detective.

This is dumb. People really do this?! (2)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#41797909)

I have a hard time believing people are actually sitting around googling each other. I have never done a search on anyone I know in real life. Not a boss, not a colleague, not a neighbor, not a friend, not a girlfriend, not a date. Nothing. Why would I? What could I possibly gain from it other than finding them blathering inanity in one place or another that colored my judgement of people who are otherwise nice to be around?

I also don't befriend people I really know on social networks, either. Nor family members. I don't even know if my family members have social networking accounts (including immediate family). I assume maybe they do. But I know them in real life and if I want to talk to them, I just talk to them. I don't need a social network to keep in touch with them (nor do I need to be bombarded with constant streams of everything from every person in my life -- especially family).

And imagine what I might think of someone if I *did* google them and found some random posts somewhere from some vengeful ex or ex-colleage or something? Someone that felt wronged and took it upon themselves to accuse them of things in some random post somewhere? Why do I need that in my head when interacting with someone?

Re:This is dumb. People really do this?! (1)

anarcobra (1551067) | about 2 years ago | (#41799883)

How about a good laugh with your friends at all the ridiculous crap that shows up on google?
At least, that's what my friends and I got out of it the few times we googled each other.

I want to know who you are (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 years ago | (#41798161)

sometimes I want to know which neighborhood I'm about to waste several hundred thousand dollars on, googling people, finding out who their friends are, who they hang out with, what they are like - can tell me quite a lot about what I'm to expect of the neighborhood. I don't feel like moving in next to hells angels & gangsta territory, or a drug infested area.

I usually don't bother googling people, but if they BOTHER me - eg. don't play nice...then I consider googling them and beyond. By nice I mean common nice polite behavior, doesn't bully me, my neighbors or friends...in other words - perfectly normal people. If you're a bully and approach me in a "this is MY turf" kind of manner, you can betcha I'll do much more than google you, I'll dig in the deep underworld of the internet, I'll google who you hang out with, note all the cars registration numbers that is parked in front of your place, google their friends, search and map everyone until I have you at a spot where I know I can protect me from you.

It's very rare for me to have to act on someone, out of the numerous times I've dug into peoples lives...I've only needed that kind of information TWICE. Once was when a smart-mouth tried ridiculing me in front of potential friends and acquaintances, I didn't say anything. Dug like mad into everything he did, had done, past and present. Came back. Next time he tried to smart-mouth me, I handed him little hints and tidbits about what I know about him, such as - oh yeah...and your business...wasn't your company under investigation back in 1998? I remember reading about that somewhere in a newspaper...good memory eh?

Shut him up - right away. And he did nothing but talk nice about me and to me after that.

Same story for the other case. So yeah...play nice, behave like you want others to behave, and everything will be fine.

To Tina Jordan (non-Hugh Hefner-kind): (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 2 years ago | (#41798747)

You stand a great chance of being a winner!! :-)

I just saw Tina Jordan (Hugh Hefner-kind) and,
well -- how much worse can you get.

Google (1, Troll)

republicancaranalogy (2761931) | about 2 years ago | (#41798755)

The standard car analogy may suffice here. Some companies make cars. Some companies make gas. Some companies hate freedom. Google used to had the motto "see no evil" but now they see evil everywher they look and so God will not take pity on them for much longer. It's like a car: imagine if you had a car and it hated freedom. You would send it to hell with all of those other freedom hating faggots in Lebanon/. That's what these jokers want from us.

Re:Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41798863)

They should get you to write the article summaries. You make everything clearer but without over-simplifying.

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