Five Things You Can Do To Protect Your Privacy Online

As parents and as social media enthusiasts we have different needs for privacy. As a social media enthusiast you do want your name out there, and maybe even your business address, but certainly not your home address. Right? Jason Calcanis doesn’t trust Facebook, and Jason is kind of a big deal.

Not everything can be controlled, but as Peter Shankman so aptly points out, we are the ones adding the content, so we do have the ability to control some of it. This is a good thing. Here are five easy ways you can begin to safeguard your privacy online.

1. Do not enter your private information online. Really, not for anything, not for Classmates.com, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, resume building sites… everywhere. Either make up an address, don’t enter one, or use a business address. No one really needs your address, they aren’t sending you gifts in the mail.

2. Remove your information from WhitePages.com. Unfortunately WhitePages.com doesn’t follow best practices, it is opt out, as opposed to opt in. You’ll need to search for your name, and then click on each search result to remove yourself from their directory. The very bad news is that both my children were listed at WhitePages.com with our correct address and phone number, the good news is that removal was almost instantaneous. Here’s an example with my friend Lolita’s data. Click here to watch the how to video.

3. Remove your information from Intellius.com. According to Intellius this is how:

In order for us to suppress or opt out your personal information from appearing on our Website, we need to verify your identity. To do this, we require faxed proof of identity. Proof of identity can be a state issued ID card or driver’s license. If you are faxing a copy of your driver’s license, cross out the photo and the driver’s license number. We only need to see the name, address and date of birth. We will only use this information to process your opt out request. Please fax to 425-974-6194 and allow 4 to 6 weeks to process your request. We will only process opt out requests received by fax and no request will be processed without complete information (i.e., name, address and date of birth). Requests for opt out will not be processed over the phone or via email.

4. Use Private registration for your websites. Anyone can go to WhoIs and search for the registered domain owner of any site. When you buy a domain name, you must enter a name, address and phone number, for an extra couple of dollars each year you can hide this information. If you don’t want to make the registration information private, then I suggest a PO Box and a cell phone number.

5. Remove or modify your profile at MyLife.com and Classmates.com. No one is going to find you at either of these places, there’s no social networking to speak of, and they’re just giant data mills.

For the most part we have overshared our own data. Taking it back bit by bit is difficult, but worth doing.

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  • JnA Studios

    wow! Thanks for this Jessica.

  • Thanks for the tips. I must be doing pretty good because I went to each of the sites you suggested to remove my stuff and they couldn't find me! Woo ho!

  • Thanks! I am going to block out some time to do this soon. I am actually teetering back and forth with the idea of deleting FB altogether. What are your thoughts?

  • Thanks for posting this. I had no idea about sites like whois.

  • These are all great tips! Another thing is to make sure that your children know not to share their information, and ask them again once in a while… Have you heard of Spokeo.com? I was surprised when I found a lot more info on my husband than I expected since he is Social Media challenged. You CAN remove yourself and all your email addresses from the site by going here http://www.spokeo.com/privacy

  • Thanks for the tips. I just went and removed myself (with both married and maiden name) from whitepages.

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  • grahamkahr

    ATT powers a search called ANYWHO too that takes info from whitepages (even after you've deleted your info) that is nearly impossible to get removed from. I have heard that you have to provide them with a written request (sent certified mail) to be removed.

    At least Facebook updated their privacy settings. I still think I'm deleting mine.

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  • Brandylee21

    Thank you for this insight. Very much appreciate it.

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  • Ballenrwc

    There are so many sneaky ways companies like Whitepages and Intellius gather your personal information that it is a constant battle to keep it out of their databases. Often, they will re-collect your information a year or less after you have removed it claiming that they have found it from and alternate source…and you have to go through the removal process all over again. The best policy is to share as little information as possible in your social networking activities. A fantastic alternative to the public social network is a new, completely private social platform called Sgrouples, which is committed to keeping all your personal information completely private and never shared with any other entity. Any information that is posted to Sgrouples can also be permanently removed by the user at any time. 

  • Thanks for the helpful information..

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