Wednesday, 01 December, 2004

There is no privacy on the Internet

I've noticed that every month I get a handful of search hits on names of friends who I mention in my Random Notes entries.  This brings up an interesting issue that I think many bloggers don't fully realize:  if you publish something on the Internet, it will exist forever.  Chances are that Google or some other search engine has cached your page, and that cache will live essentially forever.  Prospective dates, friends, employers, and business partners routinely do Internet searches on names to find out all they can about a person, and those searches turn up lots of stuff.  For example, I recently found some code that I'd published on Compuserve 20 years ago, and you can still find the notice of my 1995 talk at an Online Help users' group in Dallas.

Teenage kids who are blogging their incoherent ramblings and describing their sexual conquests or drunken over indulgences today probably don't fully appreciate that what they're posting will follow them around for the rest of their lives.  There's nothing they can do about it.  It's not like you can insist that things you've said publicly somehow be removed from the public record.  There is no privacy on the Internet.