Have you checked your online identity lately? Is it accurate or full of inconsistencies, both of which can be devastating? Accurate information can be used by stalkers and cyber criminals, while incorrect data that casts you in a bad light can cost you a promotion, a job, or even your business.
Companies such as Intelius, Spokeo, MyLife, PeekYou, BeenVerified, PeopleFinder, and Radaris (to name a few) aggregate your personal information, sell it, then make it difficult, if not impossible, to get it removed. But there are ways to mask your digital identity.
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No. 1: Commit social media suicide
There is no way to remove public records from the Internet, such as phone directories or property records. But if you're sick to death of Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter, Web 2.0 Suicide Machine will go in and de-friend, de-follow, de-connect and otherwise delete all of the info on your social networks.
No. 2. Stop data miners in their tracks
We're all familiar with do-not-call lists. A company called Abine has free software that will let you see who's tracking you online and will block them from mining data off your computer. Of course, this doesn't do anything about information that's already out there, but it will help prevent continued surveillance and distribution.
No. 3: Use a data removal service
If data removal is your goal, Abine has another product/service called DeleteMe. For $99 a year, the company will delete your personal information from companies that collect and sell that info. Some caveats – DeleteMe only goes in and deletes information at specific aggregator sites, not the Internet at large. And you need to tell DeleteMe what you want deleted. In other words, you can't say, "Delete all my addresses." You have to fill out a form and enter the specific addresses you want deleted. The company also goes back every quarter and conducts another sweep of the same sites, as long as you're paying the $99 a year. The assumption being that the info can quickly pop back up again.
No. 4: Hide your IP address
There are a number of IP scrambler programs, including Virtual World Computing's Cocoon, which reveals you as a generic "Cocoon user" to anyone who's looking. "Cocoon acts as a smart proxy," says Brian Fox, co-founder and CTO. "When a user is logged into Cocoon, only Cocoon's IP address can be seen, not the users', and cookies can be easily blocked entirely, or just stored in your Cocoon account. According to Fox, Cocoon protects you from identity theft on public WiFi, by providing you a secure, encrypted way to connect to the Web."
No. 5: Don't blindly agree to "terms of service"
The information that data brokers obtain has to come from somewhere, and in many cases, the Internet user unknowingly agreed to the Terms of Service that allowed their data to be sold to a third party. The same goes for photos. If you actually took the time to read the Terms of Service before clicking ‘I Agree,' you probably wouldn't agree with them.” Facebook's smartphone apps provide a “sync” feature where you can synchronize your contact list from your phone to Facebook. If you choose “Sync Contacts,” you just exposed all your friends too Facebook's analytics.
No. 6: Create multiple identities