By Leland Francisco(CC-BY-2.0)

By Leland Francisco

I, like most privacy researchers, spend most of my time considering how negative information online is harmful to the subject of that information. Reading Glamour at the gym last night, I came across an article about how “pre-dating” affects relationships – got me thinking more about how too much information impacts the searcher and for the first time, how good truthful information impacts the searcher. Pre-dating is Google sleuthing through linkedin, facebook, twitter, etc, etc. 48% of women and 38% of men pre-date before a first date according to a survey.

The Glamour article, “Stop Googling Your Dates!,” interviews a number of relationship experts (or at least people who work in relationship fields) that all seem to agree pre-dating is bad for relationships. The most interesting quote is from biological anthropologist Helen Fischer: “Every piece of positive information you learn online about someone will probably drive you toward having sex sooner.” Sex sooner because you think you know him or her!?!

Of course, this isn’t a scholarly peer reviewed article, but there is research out there. The research on first impressions seems to suggest it doesn’t take much information to form one and that they are difficult to change. Eli J. Finkel, Northwestern University, is quoted in the article (“You’re trying to suss out: Will this person and I have a connection? Actually, there is no evidence that we can assess that online.”) and has some written some page turners like this one.

I’ve written about distortions and inaccurate impressions resulting from negative online information, but perhaps we should start having more conversations about larger social implications of positive information as well.