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How to Disappear from the Web

If you've ever been the victim of identity theft, or a stalker, or you just value your privacy, Tech Talker has the tools to help you ditch the digital age and remove your presence from the web.

By
Eric Escobar
December 18, 2013
Episode #105

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If you haven't done so in a while, try Googling yourself with a few key terms such as the city or state where you live. I bet you'll be surprised by what comes up. But have you ever dug a little deeper? Have you ever searched images and videos? What about Googling your address?

If you're not actively managing your online presence, odds are that there is a ton of information out there that you may not be aware of (or want to be public). Sometimes it's more than just an embarrassing picture. It could be more private information such as your home address or your schedule.

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Should You Disappear from the Web?

There are a number of reasons you might want to digitally disappear from the internet.

Say you've had enough of the NSA snooping, getting off the internet would be a pretty good start! Just be sure to never use a phone, have a picture taken of you, or be in any major city for a prolonged period of time. Sadly, that's not a joke.

But in all seriousness, there might be other reasons why you'd want to erase some of your personal information from the web. Say you have a stalker? You definitely want to give them as few opportunities as possible to get to you. Or what if you're trying clean up an online reputation to get a job, or perhaps you just want more privacy in your life? These are all valid reasons to want to disappear from the internet. 

You may not want to disappear from the internet entirely, but you may want to remove some not so flattering information asap, so that it doesn't jeopardize a job application, a potential relationship, or even your identity.

As for me, I'm definitely not going to be jumping off the internet anytime soon, and I'm not suggesting that you do it either. However, the easiest way to remove unwanted information from the internet is to not put it up there in the first place! I can't begin to tell you how much trouble could be prevented if people just thought for a moment before posting personal stuff on social media.

Social Media Has Made Everything Public

Sometimes people unwittingly post information that can be used against them. For example, say you take a picture of your kids in your front yard and post it on social media.  You may have included names and faces as tags so that family members and friends can see them. Sounds innocent, right? But what if you happened to get your home address or car license plate in the picture too?

If an individual were up to no good, it wouldn't be hard to gather tons of personal information from a residence address and license plate number of the car. Worse yet is when people create locations of their home on social media so they can "check in." That's opening the doors to being able to gather information about that place and its residents.

Before the internet, information like this would have been much harder to obtain, and now people give it out without a second thought. Social media has made revealing personal information very easy and unremarkable. If you don't believe me, play this game:

Go to a mall, park, or any other open public place. Use your mobile phone and an app like Tinder. This app takes your location and then uses it combined with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to search for people around you. If you filter by real time posts, you can see people posting in real time from where you are. From there you can use their name to search their profiles and, if they don't have their account locked down, you could potentially find a huge amount of information on them!

Okay, now I'll stop lecturing about social media. Just be smart and think twice before posting anything. 

Now let's talk about how to actually remove information about yourself from the web.....

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