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Google Reality Not Reality

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The NYTimes is running an op-ed piece about how using SEO techniques they are dredging up information on people that is out of date, and also inaccurate, or was updated later on, but does not show up as a correction on the persons Google query.

This is leading to the idea that Google Reality has been so manipulated by SEO techniques, that real reality, where there was accusation, but then there was redemption or reversal of the accusation, does not show up, only the accusation does. The sad part is that given the amount of work that HR people do, and the idea that they will Google their prospective employees, what is happening is that the bad news is rising to the top of a Google search, while the retraction is never seen.

A  Business Strategy of The New York Times to get its articles to pop up first in Internet searches is creating a perplexing problem: long-buried information about people that is wrong, outdated or incomplete is getting unwelcome new life. People are coming forward at the rate of roughly one a day to complain that they are being embarrassed, are worried about losing or not getting jobs, or may be losing customers because of the sudden prominence of old news articles that contain errors or were never followed up. Source: NYT

While they use a good example of Allen Kraus, who was speculated about when he was running the NYC Human Resources Administration, right after he left a scandal broke out, that he was exonerated for, unfortunately the scandal is what pops up first in Google, not the eventual retraction of the speculation.

Some might just want the internet to forget things past a certain date.

The reality is that this is not going to happen; I have been able to find stuff that I have written as far back as 1999 on web sites that are long dead, but stored somewhere else. Archive.org provides a wonderful snapshot of the internet as it was going back to almost day one. Interested in what a domain looked like in 1994, this is the place to go. It is also the place to go if you are interested in someone’s background, or want to know what they did over a very long period of time.

There is no room for growth in the person, you read something from 1999, or 1994, and you think that they are this way now, because you are reading it in 2007. This is where Google’s reality clashes with reality, and the person might be embarrassed by that, and most likely has moved on to a different attitude, but Google’s reality is what HR is going to see. While there is no current way to expunge data, and data that reaches back decades is generally interesting to see. Dealing with Google Reality and what is really reality of who a person is today are going to be quite different. And that is one of the reasons that HR departments that Google prospective employees should take older data with a grain of salt, and do more research into the issue to see what really happened around an event.

This does nothing for people who willingly posted stupid stuff on MySpace, but for established people, in careers, sometimes they cannot avoid a scandal caused by a company. For example, every manager at Enron or WorldCom deals with Google reality every time they try to find a job. HR should really take some time to make sure that the data they get from Google is current, and accurate, and that people who were in the press for a negative or positive event are fairly researched to see if later on, the paper and the press got it right or had to fix the article because they got it wrong.

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Google Reality Not Reality
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About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer
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