Just in time for our discussion on personal branding and online privacy issues, I stumbled upon this intriguing story: Earlier this month, a French magazine called Le Tigre, published an intimate portrait of a randomly chosen Internet user laced with private information the reporter garnered from social networking sites around the web. The idea was to pick a complete stranger and to tell his life story based on the digital footprint that person either voluntarily or involuntarily left behind on the Internet. The magazine thereby tried to call attention to the fact that most people don't think about the bits of private information they share online, but that these pieces of information, once aggregated, draw a cohesive and troublingly intimate picture of our lives.
The point here: when you share information online, you've left the private sphere and shouldn't expect to keep that info protected. A good lesson for us all to learn!
Since publishing the Google portrait of Marc L. (the person featured in this article), the magazine had to change all references to cities, places, etc. The original article only rendered the names of the characters anonymous.