Recently, I have had cause to look for cached copies of various news articles on Google. It’s not that I think that the outfits involved are trying to hide something (though some are), I just want to see an article as it was originally written, rather than the smoothed-out offering that is presented once the subeditors have had their wicked way with it.
Google’s cache is extremely useful, especially when it comes to holding dissembling bloggers or journalists to account, or seeing what a page may have looked like before a redesign. But when it actually affects you in a personal capacity, are you sure that the effects are as benign?
Consider your social media profiles. I’ve locked, unlocked, and then re-locked one of my Twitter accounts recently. While no unauthorised people will be able to read my stream now, all the tweets made while the account was open for public viewing may have been indexed and cached.
Then there is Facebook. Now, I normally keep my profile locked up tighter than a drum, but for those who take a more relaxed approach to what they allow to be indexed about them on the world wide wibble, it’s worth remembering that just because you delete something, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a copy of it somewhere, waiting to embarrass you.
Finally, there is my bête noire, otherwise known as LinkedIn. While I can afford not to be indexed by Google’s robots on Facebook or Twitter, I would actually like to be found on LinkedIn, even though my profile at present resembles the last orphaned puppy in the pound. It needs a serious rewrite and some judicious editing. Only one problem: I am pretty sure the old version will be clattering around Google’s cache for a good few months (at least!) before being updated. How to update without being menaced by the ghosts of profiles past?
Frankly, there isn’t much you can do about Google cache, except remain aware of it and websites like the Wayback Machine. The internet means that you can no longer run away from your past. While in some cases this might be a good thing, for others it might simply lead to unnecessary embarrassment. Be careful about what you put out there; you never know who might be reading. I myself am determined to be decidedly more circumspect about what I offer up to the world for public viewing.
[Image by GenBug]