How to make profile photo/info unfindable to an internet search engine? May 28, 2014 9:53 PM   Subscribe

When I began actively using Metafilter I put my photo and personal information in my profile, but discovered this was all viewable to anyone using a search engine so I took it off. Can I make my photo private to Metafilter members only, or, if not, might the moderators consider making this possible in the future? For those who know about computers, why might this be a difficult request for a website to fulfill? More inside...

Hello all,

I searched the MetaTalk site for an answer and did not find anything similar. My question is - when I began actively using Metafilter I put my photo in my profile, but discovered the picture was viewable to anyone using a search engine so I took it off. Can I make my photo private to Metafilter members only, or, if not, might the moderators consider making this possible in the future?

For those who know about computers, why might this be a difficult request for a website to fulfill? To clarify, I am ignorant about computers and am genuinely interested in learning about this issue - I am not being rude or implying my question is easy to address.

The reason I decided to ask this is because due to my job my full name and photo are already accessible on the first results of many search engines such as Google. When I posted to this site earlier this year (to MetaTalk) and searched"MetaTalk" the day after I posted, the first hit showed my question, and if one clicked on the result shown and then my username, one would see my picture and profile details. I know this is realistically nothing to be worried about, but I am afraid some random person who knows my face through work will learn about my personal views by recognizing the picture. Yes, I know this sounds paranoid and I know the solution is to not post an identifying photo, which is what I'm doing now. But is there a way to have more selective photo sharing?

Thank you all for your suggestions.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose to Feature Requests at 9:53 PM (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Here's an example of my own profile shown logged in and logged out (public, same as search engines see).

We basically only hide contact and personal details, leaving the rest public including social site connections (other sites you contribute to), your name, and your picture. The thinking behind hiding some of that was basically so you wouldn't get random spam if the whole world saw your email, and some of the personal details are more for members to know you better and less about search engines.

Your stated name and photo seemed like basic details meant for public consumption and totally optional. We could probably do a better job indicating on the Preferences page which details are seen by members only and which ones are seen by everyone including search engines.

For what it's worth, user pages are set to NOINDEX which tells Google not to store details about your user page in their search engine.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:07 PM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


It would be nice to have some way of including my name so that only logged-in MeFites could see it.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:59 PM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


but discovered the picture was viewable to anyone using a search engine so I took it off.

This is not exactly true - anyone can see your user page, true - but typing in your name into a search engine will not result in your user name coming up.

That said, if you're nervous, just take your real name out and/or picture out. I use my real name, as it's a nice reminder to me that I shouldn't really be saying anything I am not happy to stand behind with my real name and presence, however I enjoy a large amount of privilege that allows me to do that, and not everyone has it/can do it.

I don't know that, if you're nervous about randoes seeing your pic/name, that you should be so much more confident about the user base. We have a vast number of members here, and those that post comments should only be viewed as a very tiny and unrepresentative section of it. People you functionality never "see" on mefi are actually more representative of members here, and they could be, well they could be anything/anyone - we simply don't know.
posted by smoke at 11:04 PM on May 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


"It would be nice to have some way of including my name so that only logged-in MeFites could see it."

Make it your occupation or gender field entry.
posted by klangklangston at 11:35 PM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh please. Just admit that this is because, in reality, you're completely squamous, and not even remotely rugose.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:41 AM on May 29, 2014 [17 favorites]


just stick your name in an AskMe answer and it's less and less likely Google will be able to find it
posted by MoonOrb at 1:25 AM on May 29, 2014 [41 favorites]


MoonOrb: "just stick your name in an AskMe answer and it's less and less likely Google will be able to find it"

Too soon!
posted by Grither at 3:49 AM on May 29, 2014 [22 favorites]


For those who know about computers, why might this be a difficult request for a website to fulfill?

Because the web is not a private space. Basically, it's just to consider that whatever you post in the web will be visible to at least several hundred people until the hamsters stop powering the generators.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 AM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dude, this is Metafilter, surely your profile pic is a cat?
posted by marienbad at 6:16 AM on May 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Dude, this is Metafilter, surely your profile pic is a cat?

Ha! I recently changed my profile pic and it is indeed now a cat (or at least includes a cat head). I'm relieved to know I'm doing Metafilter right.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 6:56 AM on May 29, 2014


Thank you for reminding me to put up a profile pic (I grew a beard)!
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:10 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel confident mine is the only MeFi profile pic of James Buchanan.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:12 AM on May 29, 2014


Not anymore.
posted by JanetLand at 7:29 AM on May 29, 2014 [19 favorites]


Thank you for reminding me to put up a profile pic (I grew a beard)!

You aren't fooling anyone, cat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:42 AM on May 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


You aren't fooling anyone, cat.

Okay, you got me.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:54 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


The best thing about Curious Artificer's profile pic is that it is a super cunning looking cat.

That cat is plotting you can see by its shifty and mysterious eye.
posted by winna at 8:32 AM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


that cat just woke up
posted by philip-random at 9:16 AM on May 29, 2014


Pretty sure I have the stupidest looking cat on Metafilter.
posted by troika at 9:30 AM on May 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


So, I was never clear on how it started... What was the impetus for the one-time trend of profile pics having/displaying/pointing a firearm? This was definitely a thing at one point several (many?) years ago.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:23 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their profiles, or why.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:25 AM on May 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


troika's cat for president.
posted by capricorn at 10:59 AM on May 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


My cat is the smartest cat.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:38 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Ha! I recently changed my profile pic and it is indeed now a cat (or at least includes a cat head)"
posted by hapax_legomenon

A disembodied cat's head is your profile pic? Awesome dude.
posted by marienbad at 11:42 AM on May 29, 2014


All cats is the smartest cats.
posted by spitbull at 11:50 AM on May 29, 2014


All cats just woke up
posted by aubilenon at 2:03 PM on May 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


What was the impetus for the one-time trend of profile pics having/displaying/pointing a firearm?

I think it started with klangklangston having had a goofy profile pic of him pointing a gun at the camera, to which someone else objected in sort of non-sequitur way in furtherance of an unrelated argument with klang on the site, and then some other folks started making absurdist gun-related profile pics as well as an act of silly solidarity. My giant donut had an AK-47 sticking through it at one point, or something like that, about which someone else then gave me unrelated non-sequitur grief. HEADY DAYS.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:12 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


My giant donut had an AK-47 sticking through it at one point

whoa, paging dr. freud, hold for cortex on lines 1, 2, and 3 plz
posted by MoonOrb at 2:20 PM on May 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


My cat is the smartest cat.

My cat doesn't care.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:22 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ah, found it. Boy that was some lazy photoshopping.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:27 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, I was never clear on how it started... What was the impetus for the one-time trend of profile pics having/displaying/pointing a firearm? This was definitely a thing at one point several (many?) years ago."

Also, it makes perfect sense that you are waving around a handgun in your profile pic."

Then plenty of other people joined in the chant, because it was a silly thing to complain about. Five and a half years ago, though?

(Gosh, that was an angrier time.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:49 PM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Note to self: Must find cat pic to replace profile pic. At some point. When I get around to it.
posted by Michele in California at 5:54 PM on May 29, 2014


Challenge accepted. Profile pic updated.
posted by arcticseal at 6:50 PM on May 29, 2014


Kirth Gerson: "My cat doesn't care."

Neither does honey badger.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:15 PM on May 29, 2014


Profile updated with a cute picture I took of my kitten Lulu last night.
posted by unliteral at 8:04 PM on May 29, 2014


Profile updated with an I-was-trying-to-take-a-cute-picture-for-the-sweetie-who-was-on-the-road-and-missing-home-but-the-cat-was-not-cooperative picture.
posted by Lexica at 8:43 PM on May 29, 2014


pony request: I think we need cats.metafilter.com - we could stash it between AskMefi and FanFare in the top header.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:46 PM on May 29, 2014


Maybe Matt could start selling a Page-A-Day Cats of Metafilter calendar.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:37 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, you people are like pressuring me to be productive. So, fine, profile pic updated. (Not with a cat pic, but a really bad cat drawing. Whatever.)
posted by Michele in California at 9:54 AM on May 30, 2014


Those social connections should be members only. In fact, I only filled them out because I presumed they were.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:20 PM on May 30, 2014


The profile includes the option to make social connections visible to everyone or to just members.
posted by troika at 1:00 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

troika: “The profile includes the option to make social connections visible to everyone or to just members.”
So it does, and I have that box ticked. Sorry, I looked at mathowie's screenshot and panicked.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2014


What about dog profile photos? Or octopi? Puptopuses? I do not feel like a cat profile picture is an acceptable option for me :) Thank you for all the suggestions and laughs!
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 7:48 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would totally approve of an octopi profile photo meme. Or other tentacle beast theme.
posted by Michele in California at 10:36 AM on May 31, 2014


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