So I am getting married this summer. The real deal, not in Second Life or in some other virtual world, but in the real world with -last time I checked- a real person. As we all know, one of the reasons for getting married is to get mountains of stuff, and so we started a wedding registry at a couple of places. (Have you seen those obnoxious people overcome by greed and materialism walking around with a laser gun at Crate and Barrel? That might have been us).
The other day I googled my name -admit it, you do it as well- and saw that our Macy’s wedding registry (UPDATE: link may no longer work – see bottom of this page) came up as a search result through Google. Actually it was one of the first entries. I don’t think that there are big secrets on this very incomplete registry (apparently my fiancee plans on baking A LOT), but it does raise some interesting questions.
I had expected that my wedding registry would have been somewhat of a semi-private space to which we could direct the people whom we wanted to see it. People who know that we have a wedding registry at Macy’s could go to the Macy’s site and look it up, but I am surprised that a potential employer, bored colleague, curious student or vindictive ex who googles my name is taken to my wedding registry. And if this is an annoyance one has to put up with as a trade off for the convenience of having an online registry, should this be communicated more clearly to the consumer?
A wedding registry is somewhat personal and why I don’t have huge problems with people seeing it (I guess that’s the whole point), I can imagine situations where people would have issues with this and would want more control over who gets to see it. I believe privacy boils down to the right to have control over what information about yourself gets communicated to whom.
I suspect, though I am not sure, that Macy’s does not mind this situation too much as it increases traffic to their Web site. (Maybe you now all of a sudden realize you need a cookie baking sheet) We actually wrote to Macy’s about this and I am curious what their reaction will be.
So what do you think – am I having an unrealistic expectation of privacy, or should Macy’s better protect their customers’ privacy and exclude these pages from Google searches?
UPDATE 02-17: We emailed Macy’s about this and got this reply (pasted below), which does not really address the google issue but should take care of it nevertheless. Apparently Macy’s also passed on our information to advertisers. Interesting.
Thank you for your interest in Macy’s Wedding & Gift Registry.
Per your request. I have marked your registry as private. This means
that only guest who have your registry number may view your registry.
Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience you may have
experienced due to the receipt of advertisements. I am truly sorry this
created a concern for you. I have notified our Advertising Department of
your request; however, as mailing lists are prepared in advance, it can
take some time for this process to be completed.