“False Positives” on Google

Recently I was talking to my friend about Googling for people's names. She's dating a few people right now and trying to get the low-down on them before she gets any more involved. So I started wondering: What would people find if they were digging for dirt on me?

Luckily for me the #1 hit for my name is still this blog. But go down a few Google hits and you start to blur the line between me and my same-name-counterparts. For instance:

Of course, I'm really not smart or married - so these are other Brian Keller's out there. But I am from Florida, so if I was an unscrupulous person I could pass myself off as a Marine Biology expert. Did you know that a whale is actually not a fish? (See - I play the part well)

Another interesting experiment is Googlism (www.googlism.com). They have an engine which looks for nouns and tries to come up with descriptions of them. For example, you might type in "whale" to learn that a whale is "not actually a fish". Type in "Brian Keller" and you get some weird results. Given that I live just outside of Seattle, somebody could easily think that I was "accused of stealing weapons from the base at seatac." Ouch.

On Google Images, 2 of the first 5 hits for "Brian Keller" are pictures of cemetaries. Hmm...

I think this is a good excercise for anybody to run, because c'mon let's face it - like it or not, we live in an age where people are going to Google you before entering into a trust relationship (employers, dating, etc.) or just for fun, so you should be ready to defend potential bad press (or change your name!). Of course, you may also need to take more aggressive and proactive measures to protecting your reputation. That's why I made this shirt... (click the image to buy yours today!)

Comments (5)
  1. Mark Twain says:

    there was a /. article a few weeks back about some guy suing poor, poor google due to slander since it returned links to derogatory comments posted about him!

  2. Where do the proceeds of your shirt go to???

  3. Brian Keller says:

    Well right now they all go to CafePress since I haven’t marked the shirt up beyond the base price. 🙂

  4. I wonder if one could (or should) create decoy sites that would draw people’s searches away from the real dumb things one has done. That way you could say "it’s some other Brian Keller" who did that. 🙂

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