I have never meet anyone with the same name as myself, very few of us ever do (except for family members with the same name), however they are out there in the world. The internet can not tell us apart by itself, other humans need to make the decisions on what information belongs to each person with that name. In this technological world that we live in today everything almost everything is being recorded and nothing is really private. I discussed this reality in my blog posts early in the semester. Now I will discuss how people have separated our information, who the internet thinks we are, and how my online presence has affected my availability.
My Online Presence
In this day and age almost everyone my age is connected to each other on the internet. Everyone is involved in multiple social media networks and bug part of their life is online. However, I am not one of these people. Compared to most of my friends and colleagues I have a very small online presence. I am not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media network except for LinkedIn and Snapchat (which is used very rarely). I use LinkedIn because it has mostly become a necessity for creating a network for potential jobs and internships. LinkedIn is the only place where you will find a profile of myself that I created and put online. This is mostly by design as I do not feel the need to share my life with most people who I do not see daily, excluding family and lifelong friends. There is very little of my on the internet and you are more likely to find me through another person than actually searching for me.
Data Broker websites over a glimpse into the scariness of our world; your information is out there, and anybody can find it. The data broker I used was Instant Checkmate and the results were a little startling. It had all of my basic information: name, birth date, family members, place of residence. All of these facts were accurate, and the approximations were very close to the truth. It also collected information on my neighbors and was very accurate in this category, including former neighbors who have since moved. The most alarming section of this data broker report is the “Dates Seen At Address” part. This is terrifying the fact that in order to get this information somebody had to be tracking your movements through the data collected. Ironically the dates in my report are incorrect(the only thing incorrect in the whole report), these dates actually correlate to my time at college which is the only time in my life where I have been away from my home for an extended period of time. Personally, I do not like the fact that anybody can get my personal information without my knowledge, and the data broker websites make it very easy for a person to receive this knowledge.
Google searching yourself is an interesting task. You are never quite sure what is going to appear at the end of the search. Due to my lack of a presence online, others with the same name, and my last name it was very hard to find myself online (the latter two reasons I will delve deeper into below). When searching for myself, with multiple variations of my name, I found only one link on the first page of a google search that related to me. This is not unsurprising due to the aforementioned reasons and not totally unwelcomed either. I have nothing to hide and if people were to know my personal information it would not be a big deal, but I do not see a reason for any random person to have this knowledge. I am more likely to come up in a search for my family members as my father is doctor and my some of my brothers have a bigger social media presence. I had an easier time finding myself through searches for both of my parents.
Not surprisingly with a semi common name there are multiple people who share it with me. However, most of these people are older which has led to google searches uncovering them instead of myself. This is not unsurprising as being adults they have lived a full life, have had more exposure, and have a more permanent existence in their world online; whereas mentioned above I have a very small social media exposure. The more generic the search the more people appear. Searching "Sean Getty" reveals about 8 people on first search, "Sean P Getty" drops the number to 4, and "Sean Patrick Getty" brings us to 2 people. Ironically the other "Sean Patrick Getty" lives in Cleveland as well. If you were to delve deeper into the web results you would find many more people with the same name.
The last name Getty introduces its own set of complications to any google search. Due to the famous Getty images any simple search will reveal celebrities with the first name "Sean" and middle initial or last name starting with the letter "P" with any images from Getty images. Interestingly the celebrity who appears the most in images is "Sean 'P.Diddy'", however, he is not the only one: Sean Penn and Sean Parker also appear but "P.Diddy" appears in almost every image.
The Famous J. Paul Getty
Almost any search containing the name “Getty” will bring you to Jean Paul Getty, one of the richest men in the world during his time. I have no familial relation to him. Because he was a very famous person J. Paul Getty appears everywhere when the name Getty is searched. His legacy has kept the name in a very prominent place online, from Getty Oil Company , the Getty Museum, the Getty Foundation, and all the way down to Getty Images founded by his grandson.
I was both surprised and not surprised in what I found during my search for my Data Identity. I was alarmed to see all the information that the data brokers have, which is now easily attainable for anyone. This is however the reality that we live in: nothing is secret. On the other hand, I was not surprised to find how hard it was to actually find the correct me online. Unlike many people when they search themselves, I did not find anything new about myself or data that was incorrect (besides for the data broker dates). This was mostly expected as there is not much information on me online to begin with.