Commentary

Google Me: Vanity Searches Plateau

In a Pew Research Study conducted between April and May 2013, Pew Research found that 56% of Internet users have used a search engine to look up their own name to see what information is available about them online -- up from 22% who did that in 2001.

Despite the growing feeling for many people that they need to share every little bit of personal information through social media, there has been little recent change in people looking for information about themselves. About 72% of adults use social networks, and those ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on the sites in the last four years at 43% -- up from 13% in the spring of 2009.

Overall, 58% of men compared with 54% of women conduct vanity online searches. Combined, 64% of those ages 18 to 29 are the most active when it comes to conducting vanity searches; compared with 38% of those age 20 to 49; 49% of those age 50 to 64 and 45% of those age 65 and older.

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Do we care less about what we post or what's posted online about us? Have we changed how we monitor out online reputation? And what message does California Governor Jerry Brown's do-over law send to teens. Go ahead and post whatever because there's no negative consequences for your actions.

Yep, the California governor signed a law that protects "the online privacy of those under 18 years of age who reside in the State of California."  The new law requires digital platform providers to notify minors of their rights to remove content or information they post and honor their requests to remove the data, subject to specified conditions and exceptions.

While the California law doesn't require a company to honor a minor's request to remove content that another person posts about them, it does protect them "from some digital mistakes that may harm their ability to gain acceptance into the college of their dreams," which they inflict on themselves. In a nutshell, the law teaches kids to post whatever you want without consequences. They just need to request a do-over that costs companies time and money.

It makes sense that the study found consumers age 50 or older with jobs that require them to monitor their online reputation conduct more vanity searches then those younger who do not. The findings also note that 24% of Internet users -- up from 20% in 2009 -- go beyond the search engine to other types of Web sites, social media sites, and directories to monitor their name and what's written about them online.
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