As I’ve been meeting new people on dating sites, I routinely put basic contact information into Google Contacts. After all, that’s where I consolidate everything (enough so that I wrote a Stylish style to fix my one problem with the UI).
And with most conversations on dating sites, you start with chatting on the site itself, and then move to text messages and/or voice – which means phone numbers.
And so I was a little surprised when I put in a first name and a phone number… and got this (posted with permission):
From just the phone number, it autofilled her full name, where she went to school, and the like.
Given how many women have told me that they get creepy dick pics and the like, this is kind of a problem.
See, I’m well aware that most folks haven’t taken all of the privacy considerations that I advocate… so someone who gives out just their first name and phone number may be revealing a lot more information than they intended.
And from that initial amount of information, it’s a short step to using any of the creepy “people finder” websites to get real addresses.
You start to see where this could be problematic.
So with Google, I strongly recommend editing most of your profile information so that it is only for your circles or extended circles. (You can find a guide here: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1355890?hl=en .)
|Example of the privacy settings|
Further, I recommend that you take a long, hard look at following most (if not all) of my practical privacy tips. They’re based on the idea that you choose what information to reveal… and make sure that people who are innocently checking you out will find what you want them to find (a post office box, a Google Voice number, etc) so that there’s an additional layer of protection there for you if you need it.
If that’s too much work, I strongly suggest making a quick Google account (for example, using your middle initial), forward all your e-mails to your main account and start a new Google Voice account. You will be able to associate your “real” phone with it, but when you use the Google Voice app/website, you can text to your heart’s content without exposing your real phone number.