There is no such thing as an eraser on the Internet.
Search engines provide endless opportunities for ego surfing, Google bombing (influencing traffic so it spikes a particular site) and Google juicing (enhancing one's "brand" in the era of micro-celebrity). Overshare and follow yourself too closely: Google narcissist.
But Googling people is also becoming a way for bosses and headhunters to do continuous and stealthy background checks on employees, no disclosure required.
Google is an end run around discrimination laws, inasmuch as employers can find out all manner of information--some of it for a nominal fee--that is legally off limits in interviews: your age, your martial status, the value of your house (along with an aerial photograph of it), the average net worth of your neighbors, fraternity pranks, stuff you wrote in college, liens, bankruptcies, political affiliations, and the names and ages of your children.
Here are some tips to clean up your digital dirt:
1. Register with a free online profile manager such as LinkedIn.
2. If you must MySpace, refrain from posting the risque;
consider cloaking or using an avatar.
3. Order a background check and then contact vendors if
you find incorrect information.
4. Think before you blog. Anything personal that you post
may come back to haunt you.
5. Fight fire with fire: Drive traffic with your own blog or by
hiring a search-engine optimization outfit.
A Closing thought:
35% of executive recruiters, who use the Internet to check out prospects, say they have eliminated candidates based on what they have found online (up from 26% in 2005). Although 82% of job candidates expect recruiters to look them up online, 33% of job candidates have never conducted a Web search on themselves.
Source: BusinessWeek, June 26, 2006 and March 27, 2006