My Data IdentityI've always been curious about what information about me is out there on the internet. A couple times before I have googled my name to see what I would uncover about my online identity. When I've done these searches I don't actually find much. Much of the online information I do find is tied to my name but not necessarily me personally. It turns out there are a lot of people with the same name as me. Not only that, but many people are also named Ruben after their fathers as I am. The little information I found on the internet about me was mainly restricted to social media.
The results from a google search of my name mainly pulled up social media profiles, obituaries, and data broker websites. Google pulled up several pages of these type of sites that were associated with my name. The only page which was actually linked to me was a link to my LinkedIn on the first google search page. Clicking on the link takes you to my LinkedIn profile where you can see information such a picture of me, my education, past work experience, and my location. When doing a google image search of my name, it only pulled up 3 rows of pictures with none of them being associated with me. I would think that some of my pictures from social media would of shown up but I was wrong. If someone were to look for a picture of me, it seems that they would be restricted to attempting to look on my social media accounts, many of which are private. While searching for my personal information on Microsoft's search engine Bing, results did not vary much. Facebook profiles are always the first ones to pop up which display several accounts with my name. Another search on the search engine Yahoo took me to results that looked similar to those on Google and Bing. Interestingly enough, Yahoo images results provided many more images than Google and Bing. However none of these images were related to me. Most of the images were of famous soccer players and important political figures from Latin America. Thus it seems that at least through search engine searches, the information provided is not even related to me. The exception is my LinkedIn page. This provides an authentic and accurate representation of who I am mostly because I am in control of the information that gets posted on there about me.
When looking me up on social media, you are able to find much more of my personal information. Depending on which social media you search on you may be able to find a lot of general personal information about me or not find me at all. I have my personal name on TikTok but I don't use it much and do not display any personal information on my profile other than my name. You could probably find my TikTok profile but even if you manage to find it you won't get much personal information about me. My twitter profile does not have my personal name associated with it so it would be difficult to find it using my name if one were to try. Even so, my twitter profile does not have much personal information. I have a couple of photos which show my face from a long time ago but nevertheless are still pretty accessible if you look under the "media" tab on my profile. My twitter profile also shows when I first joined Twitter. With the exception of this information there is not much personal information associated with my Twitter account. For a long time I had my Instagram profile as private but I switched to public when I was trying to become an influencer and become verified, which never happened. Now that I have my Instagram profile public I feel kind of exposed since anyone could find my profile where I have a handful of photos of myself. Many of the links I came across in my search engine searches were to my social media profiles, namely LinkedIn and Facebook. These two platforms provided most of the information about me since they are both public accounts and are not hard to find if you know where I live or where I attend university. When clicking on the link to corresponding Facebook profiles you can see several pages of accounts with the same as me. You can find my Facebook profile in the first few accounts listed. Information that one could see on it is vast including where I live, where I went to high school, my personal interests and hobbies. My LinkedIn profile offers similar information but also includes information such as past work experiences, academic experience, and my career and academic aspirations. I don't really have a problem with this information being available on these platforms considering thousand of other users also have similar amounts of information on their respective social media profiles. Thus, when searching through social media, my online identity seems to be more accurate and authentic of my true real life identity.
As I write my personal data identity statement it is clear that there is not much information about me which leaves little concern for me in thinking about what people could find on me. I am not very concerned about the individual online results that aren't even accurate and also not strong factors in my self-identity or do not contribute to larger patterns that are. This included some of the Google results and most of the databroker facts like age, past place of residence, and related family members. In addition, I was not as concerned about accurately depicted associates like family members because I welcome any sort of presentation of our connection. Unlike the other self-identity aspects, I could not think of a single reason for the presentation of my immediate family to matter, but I realize that this is not how everyone would feel.
Much of the information that is out there about me is not authentic or accurate to my real life identity. For example, searches I made through search engines provided information that was not even related to me. However, the information that was related to me was accurate and authentic of my identity such as my LinkedIn profile. As I searched platforms like social medias facebook and instagram the information provided was first related to me, accurate, and authentic to my real life identity. Lastly, on data broker sites, information available there was related to me and mostly accurate and authentic.
Being aware of your online data identity is an important practice in this increasingly digital world. In my case, almost every result from searching my name is accurate, but even in cases where it is not accurate, its presentation could fall back on me and my life. Thinking about informational privacy in respect to individuals having control over aspects of their self-identity and its presentation offers a serious message about the current state of internet users' privacy. I quickly realized that there is little to no control of these things in many online spaces. I am fortunate that most things in my data identity are not likely to be used to seriously harm me, but again that is not the case for all people. Further work in the area of online privacy should accordingly focus on giving back control of the presentation of the elements that users attribute to their self-identity, which are most often the patterns formulated from individual data.