We all have things we want that strangers don’t know. What happens when those private facts and images end online?
Keeping tabs for yourself through the search engines is your first line of defense. If you know the right way to look and what to look for, you can find sensitive personal information that you never knew was public. Here̵7;s how to do a comprehensive search.
All of this might motivate you to consider an alternative to data-hungry Google. What about a search site that doesn’t track you or a private email server? Pretty.
After you get to know yourself, it’s time to see what you might go away. Before you move on to paying for online reputation services, do the following yourself.
Public profiles: Is it possible to delete them?
You can ask to remove sensitive information such as phone numbers or Social Security numbers from public records in most states. Don’t expect court filings, marriage permits, or shared photos to be removed from the internet, however.
If you want to give it a try, call your county clerk’s office. Ask the salesperson if individual pieces of information can be edited or changed.
Now, let’s move on to the information you’ll have more luck getting rid of.
1. Ask Google to hide your house from view
Google Maps is handy, and Street View is fun to explore, but you might not want a photo of your house and address numbers out there. You can request a privacy blurring of your home or car image.
- Open the Google Maps or Street View library and look up your address.
- Find and open the Street View photo you want to blur. The image must show your face, home, license plate or other identifying information to be eligible.
- In the bottom right, click Report problem.
- Complete the form, then click Send.
Once a photo is reported and blurred, Google has no way to reverse it. Make sure you are sure about the deletion of the images before submitting the request.
2. Make your social media accounts private
Much of the information about you online comes from social networking sites. Lock your past and future updates for friends and family only.
- Open the Settings menu in the top right corner and select Settings and Privacy > Setting.
- Click Private in the menu on the left. Below Your ActivityYou will see, “Who can see your future posts?” Set it to Friend or your favorite group.
- You can also restrict who can see your past posts from this menu.
- At the bottom of the page, you’ll see, “Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?” Click Editor and uncheck the checkbox.
- Open your profile and tap Three-line icon in the top right corner.
- Click Setting at the bottom of the menu that appears.
- Click Private. Below Account security, convert Personal account on.
- On your computer, click Than in the menu on the left. Click Settings and privacy.
- Selection Privacy and safety > Object and tag.
- Click the checkbox next to it Protect your Tweet.
Do you want to permanently withdraw from social networks? Click or click here to see how to deactivate your social profiles.
3. Access to resources
If you find negative or intrusive information about yourself on a website, contact the website owner. There may be a link or an “Contact Us” email address. If not, search for the owner using Whois.
Politely but firmly ask the site owner to remove what you find. If the information is copyrighted, you can consult the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and request it taken down.
In situations where others have posted about you, such as on an internet forum,
Contact the forum owner directly and explain why you want the information to be taken down.
You can also file a legal request to Google to remove sensitive information. Common requests include erotic or personal images, financial or medical information, and “doxxing” content that discloses your information in order to harm you. Use this link to request deletion.
This may take a while. There’s no guarantee, but it’s worth a try.
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4. Remove yourself from people search sites
People search sites crawl about millions of people and sell that data to the highest bidder. You can opt out, but you may have to pass a few rounds.
I recommend deleting yourself from these sites first:
- Intelius, also runs Classmate.com, iSearch, Peoplelookup, PublicRecords, ZabaSearch
To help you shorten the process, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide. It includes instructions for removing yourself from the above pages and many others.
Security bonus: Clear your Google history
If you haven’t reviewed your Google privacy settings in a while, now is the time to do it. I bet you’ll be shocked by all of the searches, location and voice messages on the profile.
Click or click here for complete instructions on how to find and delete your Google history across all of its popular products, including search, YouTube, and Maps.
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Learn about all the latest tech on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s biggest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.