How to Remove Personal Information Online
De-Doxing and Removing Personal Information Online
This is the last part of our five-part series on Preventing Identity Theft & Doxing.
This is usually the most difficult step because if or once your personal information is online it can be very difficult to remove or suppress. However, with some persistence you can undo some of the damage.
Here are the practical steps you can take to eliminate your personal information online:
- Remove your information from showing up in Google searches. These are sometimes called content removal requests.
- Go to Google’s remove information page and start selecting options under the heading ‘What do you want to do?’ Depending on the options you choose, Google will provide different information or online forms for you to submit.
- Where supported, flag posts as being inappropriate. YouTube, Facebook and most leading websites support this feature – although there is no guarantee that this will always work.
- Use the opt-out resources found at Privacy Rights Clearing House and StopDataMiningMe to help scrub your personal information from the web, including People Finder and People Search websites. Each site will have its own specific procedures, so be prepared to be patient. For example, here are the instructions for removing a listing from Whitepages.com
Top Tip – When making any requests to have your online personal information removed, especially from parties that are benefitting from that information such as People Search and People Finder websites, you should never use your primary personal email address. If you do, you will essentially be providing the business with further (even verified) personal information about yourself! Instead, open and use a separate email account that you will use solely for these purposes as was discussed under Step #4 in this series.
- If you own the copyright to the information you want removed, send a takedown request to the site where the information resides that it be deleted. On websites, look for a DMCA reference which stands for Digital Millennial Copyright Act. Be aware that copyright issues can be a bit tricky. For example, you likely own the copyright in photos you took. But if someone else took a photo of you, you probably don’t have any copyright to that photo. :-/
- Hire an expert or enlist the professional help of a reputation management or “scrubbing service” such as Status Labs or Reputation Defender to tenaciously pursue the removal of the bad information you want removed. But be aware that these services are not cheap.
Keep in mind that if you try to completely disappear online this can backfire and actually give more prominence to the online information you are trying to remove. Usually, the best approach is to try replacing “bad” information with “good” information by pushing it down the search engine results pages and hopefully out of sight. In fact, this is often the technique employed by the big gun firms mentioned above.
Congratulations! You’ve made it through our comprehensive 5-step guide on how to prevent identity theft and doxing.
Ready to explore some other related topics?