Google’s ‘Me on the Web’ Tool Alerts You to Personal Data Leaks
By Keir Thomas
Google has launched Me on the Web, a new tool allowing anyone with a Google account to monitor what personal information about them appears online.
Me on the Web allows users to create e-mail alerts that will be sent as soon as the information is uncovered by Google’s search bot. Alerts also can be sent daily or weekly.
Alerts are sent whenever the user’s name is mentioned, or when their e-mail address is made public. Alternatively, users can create their own alerts — perhaps based on a phone number, for example, or home address.
Google says Me on the Web is designed to help users manage what others post about them online.
“Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update,” a posting on Google’s Public Policy blog says.
Me on the Web is exactly the same as the existing Google Alerts service, which sends users e-mails whenever a specified search query is encountered by Google’s bots. However, Me on the Web is part of the Google Dashboard, by which users configure their account, so it is more obvious and accessible.
Although Google doesn’t mention it, Me on the Web might be an attempt to combat online vigilantism, wherein a community attempts to expose individuals or hold them up to ridicule.
However, other sectors of the Internet don’t require a cause to deliberately post personal information about others. The LulzSec hacking group recently posted 26,000 e-mail addresses they claim to have reaped from pornographic websites, for example.