Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Who’s talking about you online?

Who’s talking about you online?

Nobody likes being talked about behind their back but it’s useful to know if it’s happening. Robert Irvine reveals how to find out whether and where you’ve been mentioned online

Ask Google to alert you to online mentions

It may seem vain to get Google to scour the web every day for mentions of your name – after all, it probably has many more important things to do. But as the biggest, fastest and most accurate search engine, it’s by far the best place to start, and its excellent Google Alerts service ( does the job for free.

To use Google Alerts, simply visit the site while signed into your Google account and it will suggest an option or two for creating alerts: usually your name and email address. Select one or both of these, then click the Edit button to specify how frequently you want to receive alerts (once a day, once a week or “as it happens”); the type of sources to peruse (news stories, blogs, videos, web pages or discussions); the language and region to search in; and if you want “only the best” results or all of them.

Alerts are sent directly to your inbox – unless you choose to receive them as an RSS feed – and can be deleted at any time. Because Google Alerts is free, it won’t cost you anything to also search for common misspellings of your name, in case the person who’s talking about you is a sloppy typist.

Keep track of mentions on social media

The ‘walled gardens’ of social networks are difficult for Google to penetrate, but their own search engines are pretty poor. Fortunately, there are several options available that can find mentions of your name on sites including Twitter, Flickr, Reddit and Instagram – Facebook is more of a challenge because it now blocks third-party search tools – although many are aimed at ‘brands’ rather than people.

Our favourite is Social Searcher (, which lets you search across all the main social networks in one place and filter your results by date, popularity, content type and even sentiment – positive, negative or neutral. The free version limits you to 100 searches and two email alerts per day; you can get other useful features such as live monitoring, from £3 per month.

Another option is Social Mention (, which is free to use but not as extensive as paid-for tools such as Mention ( or eClincher ( Search for your name and where to look, such as in blogs, micro blogs (meaning Twitter), bookmarks (meaning Reddit, oddly), videos or across everything.

To monitor social-media mentions in real time, you can’t beat Hootsuite (, which provides live, side-by-side feeds of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ profiles. This means you can see posts about or directed to you as soon as they appear, and reply straight away, as well as searching for your name across every service. The free version of Hootsuite limits you to three social accounts; you can manage up to 10 for £7.99 per month.

Just make sure you don’t blunder as Ed Balls did six years ago and tweet your own name instead of searching for mentions of it. That fateful date – 28 April – has become known as Ed Balls Day, much to the former Shadow Chancellor’s eternal embarrassment.

Search across online discussion boards

Despite the popularity of social networks, plenty of internet message boards are still going strong, drop by and say Hi! You can find out if anyone’s discussing you on a discussion board using the dedicated forum-search engine Boardreader ( Just enter your name (or your forum pseudonym) and click the Search button to find matching results from boards across the web. Click the cog icon to filter results by date, domain and whether the match was found in a forum post or in a thread title (if you’re really paranoid!). Boardreader doesn’t search every forum, but we found it fast and accurate.

Find out who’s looking for you online

If someone’s really interested in you, chances are they’ll want to know where you live, which is even more unnerving than them casually mentioning your name. Online directory has a service called See Who’s Looking For You (, which alerts you when someone searches for your name on the site. The information is collated in the form of detailed reports that tell you exactly who was looking for you, the dates and times they did so, and even the search terms they used. You don’t need to be listed on to receive this data, but you do need to pay a subscription of £3.59 per month or £35.99 per year. The first 30 days are free, but you need to provide your card details and remember to cancel.

Check who’s tagged you on Facebook

Some people like being tagged in Facebook posts and photos, but the rest of us regard it an irritating invasion of privacy. To discover who’s been tagging and talking about you, go to and click Privacy. In the ‘Who can see my stuff?’ section, select Use Activity Log next to ‘Review all posts and things you’re tagged in’ to see a list of links, photos, status updates and comments that mention you. Click the Edit button in the top-right corner of an item and choose Remove Tag to stop it appearing when people search Facebook for your name.

To prevent unauthorised tagging happening in future, select ‘Timeline and Tagging’ on the Settings page and set the option ‘Review posts that friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline’ to On. You should also ensure that ‘Who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline’ is set to Friends or Only Me.