Find Yourself on the WWW

When does technology become dangerous? Did you know you can type your phone number into a Google search and get a map directly to your home? You can also type your name into a search engine and get your address, phone number, and email address.

Search engines can be a wonderful research tool for academics and students. Children can spend hours reading and interacting on websites that are educational and entertaining. You can find the perfect gift, compare product prices, and find out what time movies are playing at the local theater. There is no doubt that this technology is grand.

But when do search engines cross the line? When does the Internet start to become a dangerous tool to stalkers and identity thieves? Type your name into quotes in Google, and you may be surprised what comes up. In some cases, the information may be minimal but in others, it can be extremely alarming. Who do you turn to when your social security number is found floating around the World Wide Web? Not every website has a contact to the web master. What do you do when you discover your address and phone number are just a few key strikes away?

It can be fun to Google friends, family, and old college pals. It’s a way to reestablish contact with someone you thought you lost forever. You can find out where your old college friends are and what they are up to now. You can even trace your family tree. But in the wrong hands, this information can be dangerous.

You’re elated to see your child’s picture is posted on the school Website, giving him recognition for a science project. But in that one instance, a sexual predator can get a picture of your child, the school he attends, the location of the school and your child’s name. That is more than enough information to do harm.

As a college student, you mention the name of your university you attend to someone you meet in a coffee shop, just harmless conversation, right? That’s what I thought until I got get an email weeks later after the person tracked my personal information (phone number, email address, address) through the university Website directory. The only thing he knew was my name and year. Luckily, in this instance, the person backed off. But I can only imagine how easily the incident could have turned dangerous.

Sure you can pick up a phone book and get similar information, but does the convenience of this all-to-ready information make it more tempting for a predator?

For the record, you can type your phone number with your area code into a Google search “012 345 6789” and the first result will be a phone book listing (if you are not listed in the phone book you may not be listed online). Click on the link with your phone number and you can opt to remove your listing from Google

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