x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hide and seek

Google is an essential tool if you want to find something or somebody on the internet. But what do you do if you don't want to be found?

A dispute over the meaning of a new Swedish word has thrown into focus one of the dilemmas of modern life. The BBC reported this week that the Language Council of Sweden and the search-engine giant Google are arguing over the definition of "ogooglebar", or "ungoogleable" in English.

But the argument - over whether the word should apply only to Google or to search engines in general - has been overshadowed by the very concept of ungoogleability.

The whole world has embraced the internet and all it has to give, and many businesses have sprung up offering to increase the visibility of websites through search-engine optimisation. But not everybody wants to be found; some people and businesses want, even need, to hide certain information from search engines - to ensure personal safety or for commercial reasons, such as protecting information behind pay walls. For that reason, being ungoogleable is an increasingly desirable thing.

Of course, everybody has a right to a certain amount of privacy. But if you are concerned about too much personal information being online, you probably have only yourself to blame. After all, thanks to Facebook and other social media, you're the one who put it there in the first place.