It's possible to disappear from Web
Are there days when you wish you could just disappear from the Internet?
Maybe you're haunted by things you've said on social networks, or you're just sick of having companies track and catalog your every digital move.
It's not terribly difficult to pull the Internet equivalent of escaping to a deserted island.
A good place to start is with a Google search of your name to see if anything unsavory pops up. Remember that Google isn't your enemy; it's just the messenger. If you want to remove some embarrassing things you've said in a forum — or bad things that have been said about you somewhere — you need to get it removed from the original source.
Find an email address or phone number for the website in question and talk to a person who has the authority to grant your takedown request. Most websites have a Contact Us link at the bottom of their home pages.
If you can't find contact information, a “Who Is” Google search will tell you who registered the site. Type “whois www.name-of-site.com” in quotes.
Website operators are under no obligation to remove content unless they get a court order. But most will give you a fair hearing if you're polite and explain that the content is untrue, hurts your reputation or is making it hard for you to get a job.
If it is a site's policy to not remove content, ask whether your name can be removed from the post or whether the content can be blocked from appearing in search engines.
If you succeed at changing a site, it can take Google a while to show updated search results. Fortunately, you can speed up the process using Google's URL Removal Tool. You need to have a Google account to make the request.
Google isn't the only information collector around. Anybody who's willing to pay online information brokers — also known as people-search sites — can learn your phone number, address, criminal record and a lot more.
Primary data brokers such as Intelius collect information from public records. Secondary data brokers such as Spokeo aggregate information from primary brokers and add data collected from social networks and other online sources.
If you truly want to disappear from the Internet, you should search for yourself on these sites and remove yourself from their databases.
The privacy company Abine maintains a list of 25 major data vendors and instructions for opting out of each one.
Each site's opt-out procedure is different. Some even require letters and faxes. But it's the same routine that Abine's data removal specialists follow if you sign up for the company's Delete Me subscription service. It just takes a bit more time.
Don't let your guard down after you opt out. Keep searching for yourself on people-finder sites every few months to make sure the data collectors haven't added you again.
When an amateur sleuth wants to find you, the first place they'll look is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and other social networks. It's easy to delete your profiles on all the big networks. You can find full instructions on sites such as Account Killer.
Email Kim Komando at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Georgia prosecutor Yates tapped for No. 2 post in Justice Department
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Pittsburgh police doubling up on duty after potential threats
- Steelers defensive game changer: Fourth-down stop thwarts Chiefs
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
- Government survey: More teens trying out e-cigarettes than real thing
- Old-school booksellers learn to survive, thrive in digital age
- Vigil honors 6 homeless who died in Pittsburgh in 2014
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win