Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Web Secret #26: How to become Web Dead

Do you feel overexposed on the web?

Maybe you have posted information that was just a little too personal. Or signed up on one to many forums. Maybe you are getting ready to job hunt and you have heard that employers are checking potential job candidates online before making their hiring decisions.

But what can you do? Isn't the Internet simply an information black hole that sucks up personal data, disseminates it to all comers, and never lets go?

I recently read a useful but somewhat overlong and technical article on how to become "Web Dead" .

Here is my succinct and easy to understand adaptation of that article, renamed "How to erase your online identity in 9 steps":

1. Assess the Damage
Start by performing an Internet search for your name on all known search engines to assess the damage. Use quotes, "John Hancock" and if you have the time, go through ALL of the returned search results. Make a reference file with the results that point to you.

2. Delete What You Can
Visit all your old blogs, online resumes, for sale advertisements, want ads, personal ads, social networks, geneology webs and bartering sites. Follow each site's protocol for deletion.

3. E-mail Webmasters Directly
If a reference to your name occurs on a blog or website that isn’t agreeable to you, a simple e-mail to the site’s webmaster will fix the problem in short order.

4. Employ ReputationDefender
ReputationDefender was founded to protect your good name on the Internet. They provide professional DESTROY assistance, helping to remove inaccurate, inappropriate, hurtful, and slanderous information about you and your family.

5. Always Use Pseudonyms
You would be surprised at the overwhelming number of novice computer users who feel an undeniable compulsion to use their real name when posting something on the Internet. To simplify things, come up with a standard pseudonym, and create an accompanying e-mail address when you post your opinions, rants, or other juicy tidbits you wouldn’t want to fall into the hands of your employer.

6. Contact
Chilling Effects dedicates itself to educating Internet users about their rights. They have also created a form you can use to send a cease and desist notice to a site owner who won’t comply with your request to remove your name from a particular site.

7. RemoveYourName
A somewhat pricier, but guaranteed service is They will not stop working until your name is off of the major search engines, and their work is backed by a money-back guarantee. Theirs is a one time process. Prices start at $995 for personal use, and go up to $2995 for the full-on business package.

8. Refocus on the Positive
If you don’t want to pay to get your bad name expunged from the public record, you can try an alternative approach. Companies like ComplaintRemover, have the ability to make positive information about you or your business appear on thousands of different websites.

9. Stay Offline
Resist the urge to reveal sensitive information. Deny the impulse that drives you back onto FaceBook to post. Once you feel you’re ready, tip-toe back into cyberspace by limiting yourself only to selected websites that don’t encourage or have the capacity for naughtiness or defamation.

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