After an online date gives me their full name, the first thing I do is look them up on Google. Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist, but I like to know whom I’m dealing with. I don’t think I’m doing a bad or sneaky thing. I just think of it as a way to protect myself.
And I can almost guarantee you others agree: Your online dates are probably Googling you as well—unless you are lucky enough to have a name like Jane Smith or Richard Jones. When you have a common name, you are much harder to find on search engines.
So ask yourself: Can you pass the Google test? What comes up when you Google yourself? Is it something you are proud of or embarrassed about? And if you are embarrassed about it, how do you go about taking it down? Or maybe you are not even sure you should be taking it down. How do you go about assessing your online profile?
Start with Facebook.
Facebook is where a lot of people get into trouble. People tend to think of Facebook as a private page for their friends, yet they often leave it open for anyone to look at. Facebook pages are notorious for having party pictures of people smoking and drinking, or with their top off. Even if your date is a regular smoker or drinker, even if you think your date would have no problem seeing a naked photo of you on Facebook, it’s a good idea to take these kinds of pictures down. Not only might they give off a bad impression to your date, but God help you if you ever need to look for a job. Employers have been known to not hire people or fire people with bad Facebook profiles. Entirely unfair, I agree, but it happens. In general, it is a good idea to assume that nothing you put online is private.
Also, you may want to conduct an image search of yourself in Google or on Yahoo.
Just click on “Images” and type your name in. You never know what pictures there are of you floating around out there, even on websites you have no involvement in. Someone could have even put a picture of you Photoshopped with a body that doesn’t belong to you. An image search gives you a good idea of your photo trail on the Web. If you find anything offensive, take it down or ask the person who owns the site to take it down. You may have to contact a lawyer if the person won’t comply.
Another thing to consider is your writing on the Web.
Even if you are not a writer by trade, most people have written something on the web in social media. It could be something you don’t remember writing. Think back: Did you ever have a blog or Twitter account? Have you ever written anything controversial? While it may have felt good at the time, think about how such writing looks to a date today. If you have any question as to whether it might be appropriate, remove it. Blogspot accounts, in particular, are really easy to delete.
Finally, the last tip I can give you is to go to archive.org.
Archive.org is exactly what it sounds like, an archive of everything ever put on the Web. Well, ok, maybe it’s not that exhaustive, but it’s a darn good resource. Here’s how it works. You type in an old website and it gives you all the web pages it can find for it, going back years. It is more comprehensive than just searching caches. You may think a site doesn’t exist anymore because it isn’t on Google, but archive.org may have it on display for anyone to see. Give it a whirl.
Following the above tips will go a long way towards improving your online profile. Now all you have to worry about is going out on the date. Good luck!
This article was brought to you by the dating experts at OneGoodLove.com, the only online dating site created specifically for the relationship-minded LGBT community. OneGoodLove.com is by the community for the community!