How to Purge Personal Information from the Web
In an age where anything can travel across the world in the blink of an eye, more and more people are worried about the implications that personal information can have on them by being on the web. Even seemingly innocuous activities can result in inherently personal information being available to all who wish to peruse it. Details such as phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses and birthdates can often be accessed quite easily by those who want to find them, and most people have felt helpless to stop this – until now. Whether you are managing a brand and need to have a pristine reputation, or you simply want to correct some personal information about you or your brand, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to help purge select details from the web at-large.
Going to the Source
In order for personal information to appear about you in search or on various websites, it had to come from somewhere. In most cases, this information was either voluntarily provided to sources on the web that published it, or was obtained through legitimate sources by institutions protected by law (such as newspapers and courts). In all cases, however, contacting the source with a request to remove the information – including a justifiable reason behind the request – can produce some benefits in at least some cases. Sites and institutions that operate under legal frameworks or that are expected to publish information (again, like newspapers) will be less likely to bend to these requests. Nevertheless, pinging services with these requests almost never costs money and only takes a bit of your time.
Going to the Spreaders
Aggregation sites can serve many different purposes across the web, making it possible for users to quickly find necessary information about individuals. They can also be a pain for those who wish to keep their personal information private. In terms of distribution of personal information, there are a few dozen of these services in existences. Some of these websites make it relatively easy to request information be removed and follow through accordingly. Others require more complex requests (such as submitting more personal information to verify it is you).
In order to contact each of these aggregation sites and request that information be removed, you may need to spend many hours doing so. Pinging services with these requests can be time-consuming, so it might prove prudent to figure out which are easiest to deal with before beginning. With that being said, many aggregation sites charge users money in order to see truly detailed personal information; in many cases, you may not be at a heightened risk of this information being seen by many.
Enlisting Professional Help
When and if it is decided that this is too much work for you to handle, you can always enlist the services of a reputation firm or professional online service to do the work for you. In short, they provide the same service as listed above – sometimes more – but the drawback is the cost typically associated with such endeavours. Still, if your reputation is on the line or has been unfairly maligned, a quick and easy approach may be worth much more than the lost potential from a smear campaign.