Are you worried that your potential employers and recruiters are googling your past? It’s not really so much of a problem as you might imagine, and if someone does give you a hard time over it I think it’s a wrong and naive stance to have, so I want to talk a bit about this.
I also want to give some tips of how to remove potential data you want to get rid of, if you are very worried about it, and that is OK. Luckily it’s much easier today to remove data than it was a few years ago.
There’s also the important factor of being proactive, to avoid disasters before they strike. So I want to discuss a few tips of how you can do what you want on the internet with a lot less risk of consequences in the future.
So, a nice thing about being a person is that you can change, that your opinion and knowledge of the world changes. With 1 year you can get a completely new perspective of life.
No-one should be held responsible for what they said 5 years ago or 10 years ago. You were, for all intents and purposes, an almost completely different person. Even your cells in your body weren’t the same, as they are recycled every 7 years. You were literally and physically a different human. So to hold something you said then against you now is completely ridiculous.
But we may be overreacting about people googling your past. In reality, it’s not so bad.
Remember that people generally spend a lot more time worrying about what others thinks about them. People generally do not spend a lot of time thinking about other people.
And that is why you might be worried, yea? Is it because you clicked this video? Because you worry about what others think about you. It’s just human nature. We want to fit in. We want to be accepted.
But the concept of not thinking much about others applies to recruiters and employers too. There’s not many people out there that will google your name, and if they do they most likely will just look for LinkedIn and Facebook. The overwhelming majority of people out there are not skilled at deep correlation search and digging through usernames, aliases etc. It doesn’t really happen.
No-one is going to spend hours digging for your information, unless you’re signing up for some military or highly sensitive government work. Then I can’t really help you if you made some stupid decision, OK?
How to get rid of data
Getting rid of data is about removing the reference values. If they google your name and your Facebook has a different name, the reference is broken and it won’t show up.
The European Union introduced GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018. And you can invoke this to remove absolutely everything about you from a website if you want.
You don’t even have to live in the EU, nobody will check if you do or not. Just tell them that you want everything removed by the laws of EU and GDPR and they will do it.
“The GDPR aims primarily to give control to individuals over their personal data”
And this is now a law in EU, so any company that has business in the EU, for example Facebook, are forced to comply.
“provide safeguards to protect data (for example, using pseudonymization or full anonymization where appropriate)”
This means that you can tell them to remove anything that can reference you personally, such as name, personal number etc. It’s about removing the references so that search engines can’t find you.
“No personal data may be processed unless this processing is done under a lawful basis specified by the regulation, … The data subject has the right to revoke this consent at any time.”
So not only can you force them to remove references, you can force them to entirely delete all data if you so wish.
But there are of course websites where you don’t want to remove everything, for example it’s a bother to delete your Facebook. Here it might be more useful to change your name, your profile picture etc, to remove the connection between someone Googling your name and Facebook.
The search engines will update this and remove it within a few days.