Manage Your Online Information
As consumers of online services, we create information through our use of social media, online shopping and many other activities. Public records are also a source of information about an individual, which can get posted online. Be aware that once this data is online, it can be difficult to remove.
Your habits and tolerance for risk can change over time. The information you felt comfortable sharing publicly a few years ago may seem like information you would now rather take back. You may have found information about you online that is incorrect, misleading or that you simply want removed. Below are some considerations on how to take ownership and control the data about you.
See What Information About You Is Available Online
It can sometimes be shocking how much information is collected about you and made publicly available. Search engines will help you to do a quick query of your public information. You can also take a proactive approach and set up alerts for search terms of your name.
Data Service websites have massive amounts of data about individuals compiled from a variety of sources, including public records and social networking sites. This data can be sued by credit issuers, criminal profilers, employers and others for any number of purposes not necessarily intended by the data service providers. Be aware that some information posted about you is within your control, and some of it is not.
Clean Up Data You Can Control
Information that is under your control includes information you have posted, such as your social networking profiles and related information. In addition, there could be information about you on old blog posting, postings on a friend’s website, an old dating profile, an image sharing account or any other services that were useful at some point but are no longer necessary.
Review the accounts to which you have access. You basically have three options: remove the data, modify the privacy settings and/or request that the account be deleted. If you are going to request that the account be deleted, remove all of the data first. Be sure to request that the account be delete rather than deactivated.
Request Clean-up of Data You Do Not Control
Contact website owners – If the site does not make contact information for the site owners available, you can do a query on the WHOis.net website to find an administrative and technical contact for the site.
Opt out of data service providers – A data service provider is a company or group that will provide lists of contact information to individuals or companies that request it. They often charge a fee for this information. In many cases, data service providers provide individuals with the ability to opt out of having their data published. Keep in mind that these services are aggregators, so the original provider of the information will likely have to be contacted also to remove your information. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse publishes the opt-out URLs for more than 240 of these types of services.
Use a professional service – The maintenance of your online data requires discipline and regular review. What if there is misinformation being posted about you that you cannot get removed through the steps discussed. Then it is time to consider using a professional service.