Finding Yourself on Google… when you’re a Kid

A couple days ago, one of my children showed the rest of the family a funny Facebook meme/game being passed around. Here are the rules:

  1. Open Google
  2. Search your first name
  3. Take the first picture that comes up
  4. Upload it to Facebook
  5. That’s you in 10 years

The rest of us thought it’d be funny to try, so we did. And yes, my family tends to gather around the computer to watch a funny Youtube video, look at a silly website, etc. Anyway, here are the results my family got while playing this game:

  • My son found a normal-looking, slightly-pudgy, balding middle-aged man (I think he said “aww, man!” when that photo came up).
  • My wife found a young woman.
  • My oldest daughter found a female wrestler (she found that sorta odd).
  • Me? I got the naked statue of David, King of Israel (and a bit of ribbing from the family)
  • My youngest daughter, age 12? She found … herself. From one of my Flickr pics (I put her name in the photo description). She found that a little weird, and a little pleasing at the same time – she won the game!

A couple of observations:

  • Kids games these days … how funny that you can make a game out of a google search, huh?
  • Anyone catch what’s involved in playing this game? A Google image search (Image search wasn’t even mentioned, just assumed), downloading an image, then uploading it to Facebook, then posting all of that as a Facebook status update. There’s a good 2-3 skillsets there that some of us have actually taught in a formal setting in the last 15 years, reduced to the ease and throw-away-ness of a goofy game. Wow.
  • Copyright, anyone? Yes, it’s harmless fun. But still, it does involve randomly lifting and reposting photos of strangers into Facebook … without their permission. And it’s easy to do, too.
  • Privacy, anyone? My daughter found herself. In the results of that same search, you can also find a photo of my oldest daughter and a photo of a ballet production both my daughters danced in. Weird, huh?

I’m fine with finding photos of my kids online, and wasn’t too surprised at those results. I know how it works. But how about other people who put private moments online for, say, a grandparent to see? Or someone posting photos and information, and not really thinking of the connectivity that the web provides? That can REALLY freak some people out, and might feel a bit like “Google knows who you are.”

What to do? Teach your customers (and staff) the implications of posting online, whether that’s a blog, a photo-sharing site like Flickr, or even an all-in-one social network like Facebook.

If it’s online, people can find it. Period. Teach people how to set their privacy setting in social networks, and also teach them that once something’s online, it’s most likely available to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.

And then, teach them how to deal with that. Fun, huh?

Update – check out Posting Photos of Your Kids on Facebook: The Realities by the ReadWriteWeb.

  • Anne

    There is a singer (not anyone terribly famous) with the same first and last name as I currently have, so unsurprisingly most of the first 17 pages of results were photos of her. For fun I also did my maiden name, which is also the name of a Canadian poet and I assume most of the results where images of her.

  • davidleeking

    I can relate – I share the “David Lee” with David Lee Roth of Van Halen. I can remember being pretty pleased when my photo started coming up in a “david lee king” search instead of Mr. Roth’s photo :-)

  • Sharon Foster

    I always taught my customers and coworkers to beware of going to any random website that turns up in a Google image search, but to stick with Flickr, Picasa, Panoramio, and one or two others. We had one too many instances of a staff member’s computer picking up a bug simply by going to the website of a “stranger with candy.”

  • Barbara

    Freaky. I did the image search with just my first name, and the first two results were photos that I had sent friends some time ago (not of me) — I guess from my Gmail account. So people can see what you are sending as attachments to other people, I presume? — although I suppose those two results wouldn’t have come up for another person doing that same search. Google knew who I was since I was signed in as myself. Still, perhaps other people could type my complete name and find things I’d sent to others in the personal realm of my life. Thanks for the heads-up.

  • me@bipl

    I did the find yourself in ten years very funny….not even ten years ago would’ve I look
    like the model picture I found with my name. But when I typed in my full name I
    found that because of my “likes” on facebook I appeared in 4 of 10
    listing. Just goes to show that my husband who considers himself a computer illiterate
    has always objected of me posting our kids’ picture is now validated! As a ref librarian I do make sure to tell our new novice user of privacy and social media exposure

  • Lauren Starling

    Wise words about educating your staff. It’s best to keep your business world separate from personal/private online world all together. And that means privacy settings and obscure usernames for personal stuff and only professional postings for anything attached to your brand or real name.