How to Achieve Online Anonymity in 10 minutes

Posted on 28 March 2009

We all know how useful internet is in today’s world. It’s your ultimate source of pretty much everything you need information on, your medium of staying in touch with friends and relatives across the globe, it is what you use to express your feelings and opinions on anything and everything you feel strongly about, and it may even be your bread and butter. In short, in this era where technology has pretty much taken our lives over, it’s impossible to imagine what life without internet would be.

invisible_on_internet


But you must remember that though it connects you to the world, it can expose you to the world as well. What most innocent web users don’t realize is that anonymity is the best policy when using the internet. Initially, it’s a great feeling to see your name pop up when you search it on Google, but what you don’t realize is that, that Stumbleupon photo blog that was automatically generated when you added your ratings to that nude photo has also made it to all the search engines. Similarly, your funny home movies, your age, your personal information that you carelessly added to your MySpace or Facebook or other social networking profiles all becomes public information for anyone who wants to see it.


With the recent advent of employers checking potential job candidates online before making their final hiring decisions, it might be wise for you to pull all your personal information from the web before things that you have always believed were personal, but don’t know have become public, are seen by those who you want to keep them away from.

Fear not, because no matter how bleak it seems, Internet is not an information black hole that suck up all your personal data and disseminates it to the entire web. It’s just as useful as it ever was, and pulling information away from it is just as possible as it was spreading it. Maybe not that easy or cheap, but yes, definitely possible.

Here is some practical information that will help you become web anonymous, and more internet savvy about sharing your personal date on the internet.

Track Your Online Profile

The first thing you should do is search your name in the ALL known search engines to see how many websites are displaying information about you. Use quotes, “John Doe” and try to go through ALL the returned search results. It would be wise to make a reference file with the results that point to YOU.

Delete

Now, start deleting what you can first. I know it sounds simpler than actually doing it, because it is almost impossible to keep track of all the online accounts we’ve created over time. A simple way of doing it would be to create an Account Sheet, detailing the URL’s of sites we’ve carelessly created accounts at or posted on.

Commonly forgotten repositories of information include, but are not limited to, Flickr (and associated comments), old blogs, online resumes, for sale ad on non-expiring websites, personal ads, want ads, genealogy webs and bartering sites.

Trying to delete social networking profiles like Facebook can be a little difficult, but the details of the deletion process can be found here.

Always Use Pseudonymspseudonym

Most people feel a compulsion to use their real names when posting on forums or commenting on anything over the internet. Like I mentioned earlier, yes, it feels real nice to see your name on the screen knowing millions of people will read it, but it’s not the smartest thing to do.

Create a Pseudonym and an accompanying email address to post your opinions, rants, and gossip. This ensures that whatever you post wont some day fall into the hands of your employer or a federal agent. The best thing to do is “cover your ass.”

Webpage Removal Request Tools

Google and Yahoo! offer a “Delete URL” feature, which gives websites administrators and webmasters the power to stop specific URLs from being indexed. Non-admins can also request that “private” information be removed, or request the webmasters to take advantage of this tool to remove pages with your name from indexing.

Ask.com has included an “AskEraser”, the simple purpose of which is to completely delete your search activity, including your IP address, user ID and session ID cookies, plus the entire text of your search query – all within hours.

Contact Webmasters Directly

Despite the general idea that webmasters are impossible to contact, you need to remember that they are people too, and in more than most cases, just an email away. So if a reference to your name appears on a blog or website that you are not comfortable with, simply e-mail the webmaster voicing your concerns and that should fix the problem.

So what about websites that don’t mention any contact information for the webmaster or the administrator? You can simply use the publicly available WHOIS service. Just type in the website’s domain and viola, you’ll get all the domain registration information, including the contact info. If the email is not available, just write a snail mail letter, firmly demanding that your name be taken off of their website.

ReputationDefenderreputationdefender

This California based company is who you should turn to if all your other efforts fail. ReputationDefender was founded to protect your good name on the internet. Their goals, stated on their website are:

1. To SEARCH out all information about you and your family throughout the Internet and present it to you in a clear, easy-to-understand fashion

2.  To provide DESTROY assistance, helping to remove, at your request, inaccurate, inappropriate, hurtful, and slanderous information about you and your family using our proprietary in-house methodology. This same mission extends to your personally identifiable information, like name, address, and phone number.

3.  To deliver CONTROL over how others are able to perceive you on the Internet

Hide Your Ass with Hidemyass.comhidemyass

Hidemyass is a proxy service similar to iBypass, aimed at hiding your online identity. It can be used to hide your IP address and bypass your work or school web filters very easily.

ChillingEffects.org

chillingeffectsChillingEffects is a site dedicated to fight for freedom of speech online and to the education of internet users about their rights. They feature a form (available here) that you can use to send a cease and desist notice to a site administrator who refuses to comply with your requests to remove your information from their website.

RemoveYourNameremoveyourname

Though this service is a little expensive, but it’s worth the cost. RemoveYourName.com guarantees that they will not stop working until your name is off of all the major search engines. They back this claim with a money back guarantee. The prices begin at $795 for personal and $2495 for the business package.

Counter the Negative Information

So, you’ve seen what a little carelessness can cost. You don’t have the money to pay the premium services to expunge your bad name from the internet, but you can’t live with the consequences either. So why not counter the negative information with positive?

Companies like ComplaintRemover and RepSavior have dedicated themselves to this idea.

offlineYour major concern is negative information about you showing up on the first page of Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. What you need to do is move these negative listings aside and replace them with positive information. You can do this through Wikipedia. Make a page dedicated to yourself or your company that illustrates everything good about you. With Wiki’s reach and rank, your post will appear above the negatives ones in no time.

Stay Offline

Yes. Internet is just as addictive as marijuana, though it hasn’t been deemed illegal yet. Try to spend some time away from your computer and do something constructive with your time. You’ll thank yourself later.

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This post was written by:

R. MAK. - who has written 230 posts on ixibo.

How Should I describe me?... Well! I am a simple dude, who likes to indulge in intelligent conversation with an intelligent people, specially on technology topics hope you are one of them :p

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7 Responses to “How to Achieve Online Anonymity in 10 minutes”

  1. Hi Maria:
    You do have a very interesting profile.
    I like the way you write, but most of all is very delighted that you like to hold intelligent conversation.
    Great to meet you!
    I connect with tons of most influential females on a day-to-day basis and will be happy to connect you to those cirles.
    One such person is Giovanna Garcia and Kara Orr.
    After your response I will open the Flood Gates and show you what we got!Or maybe you could meet us over Facebook, Twitter. Tweetlater or more..>
    Thanks,
    Leroy
    (onlineOfflineInternetPro)

  2. Lara Cawthra says:

    Good article. It is similar to everyday life. What would you like your friends and family to see or read about you? If you don’t want them to see/read it don’t put it on a public site where it can be easliy found.

  3. Ben Smith says:

    This is interesting. I don’t think there’s much to be done about becoming “anonymous” online. Most companies listed here, ReputationDefender, etc. mostly just promote a person’s profile on sites like LinkedIn and ClaimID. This helps take up some slots on the search, and possibly moves down negative things. Not worth the money they charge for it, though. Anyone with a free afternoon should save their money and just create their own profiles.

  4. Thanks For keeping it on point – it’s always easier to read that way ;)

    Best Regards

  5. Auto Friend Adder says:

    It is consistently auspicious to apprehend your posts – acknowledgment afresh and best regards


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