Try opening any search engine on the Internet and typing in your full name. If the results that came up give away some of your personal information through a social media profile, then you just found out how easily another person can find things about you online.
Heather Landfield, a sophomore, said she is perplexed by how much information Google can compile about a person.
"It's crazy how people can type your name into a search engine and immediately know so much personal information about you," Landfield said. "When I search my name on Google images, not only do pictures of me come up, but also pictures of my friends and pictures that I have taken."
This phenomenon is something that people may not even realize until they see the effects of it themselves. When creating a profile on a social media site, it may seem harmless to fill in every personal detail on the profile for people you know that may see it. After all, websites like Facebook encourage you to fill out everything on your page.
But the truth of the matter is that once something is put on the Internet, anyone can access this information. Through a simple Web search, another person could figure out what age and gender you are and everything that you like and dislike, as well as your political and religious views. People can also find out what you look like through the photos posted on your profile. They can figure out where you live, find out where you work, what your phone number is and see what college you attend.
Landfield said that the easy access to her personal information online feels intrusive, despite how minor the information may or may not be.
"It does bother me a little that people can know so much about my background by Googling my name," she explained.
Depending on what you put on your profile, the amount of information people can find out could be incredibly vast. One of the most dangerous social media functions comes from sharing where you are. Social media encourages users to post their locations through their cell phones to let the world know exactly where they are.
Landfield said that sharing your location on social media is annoying and unnecessary.
"It's not something that everyone needs to know, much less care about," she said. "In a situation where someone lives alone, it would be alerting potential perpetrators that their house is empty."
To take precautions against making your personal information easily accessible, it is vital to keep heavy security on all social media profiles. Facebook makes this easy with its option to restrict information on a profile for only certain people to see. Or, you can choose to hide everything, except your name and your profile picture, from the general public.
Allie Lehaf, a sophomore, makes sure that none of her personal information is made public through social media's tight online security.
"If someone wanted to know something about me, they could probably find it out," Lehaf said. "That's why I only keep things online that I am comfortable with others seeing."
However, the easiest thing to do is to just get rid of everything that you don't want anyone to view on your profile. Deleting information from a profile is as easy as editing the profile's content. You may be surprised at how much information you keep up that you don't actually need on your profile.
Lehaf said that she carefully picks what kind of information she want to put on her profile pages.
"I keep my social network sites pretty professional, and the information I have on them is not very revealing," she said.
If your social media doesn't require you to include your full name, then don't keep it there. While websites like Facebook need you to have a first and last name posted, other sites like Twitter do not need a person's full name to utilize all of its functions. It's possible to operate on a username that has no direct association to the user, making it impossible to find information through your name alone.
"If it's not something that I would be comfortable with a lot of people knowing, then it shouldn't go online," Landfield said.
Despite any preventative measures taken, it's still very important to think before you post. It is imperative to make sure that you aren't constantly revealing information about yourself, because it's easy for other people to spread around information through their profiles as well.