As a web marketer I’m aware of all the search parameters, and some insider ones too, used to find info on the web. When it comes to individuals, groups, or brands, I can find out just about anything I want.
Little do people know (or maybe we do?) the EXTENT the digital age has turned privacy upside down. It’s impossible to hide.
Everyone’s done it: Googled your name. But what you see on the surface may not be the only story. Take for example the latest work we did for an individual trying to erase his digital footprint online. Easier said than done, but we managed to take care of most of the ‘exposure’. Here’s how.
First off we Googled. Once we found instances, we changed search queries to include brackets, nicknames used in social media, job titles, kids names, spouses, cities lived in, and schools. For the guy we helped he never explicitly agreed to have any of the info we found online except for some work related items. Yet, we found him in every one of the categories we just mentioned (including kids names).
There were even photos online.
IN this instance someone (something) had scraped public Facebook content and a query of his name and job title not only brought up a direct hit, but it included a photo.
So how did we remove all of the pages and mentions?
It wasn’t easy, and we’re still waiting for Google to discover the changes.
For starters, everything we had control over, or knew the control person, we removed his name/mentions. That took care about 75% of the online exposure. After that all social media accounts were closed, but not before we went into all public groups and removed any comments or likes or pictures that were made.
The remaining 25% was a combination of related websites and content scrapers. The former can be removed with a little wrangling and phone calls. The latter is far more difficult because usually automated robots scour the net, find info/photos, and auto post the information. Sometimes this information gets posted on sketchy websites in a different part of the world. If taht happens game over. The chances of getting that content taken down is slim to none.
In this case someone scraped photos from Facebook and posted them to Photobucket. Contacting the user was impossible, however, in this case Photobucket had a DMCA complaint option. We took advantage of that and surprisingly received a response and action within 2 hours–pictures taken down.
So here’s an example of one person who never had an average online presence–just a Facebook and Twitter account. Yet he was mentioned in numerous websites, his comments in social media were indexed, and he even had pictures online.
We managed to take 95% of the materials down.
But we’re entering an age were removing your digital footprint is next to impossible. There’s so much info and so many places to hide it that it’s impossible to stay immune.
I remember a funeral for a woman who was 96. Not a bit about her online–good for her. But the moment she died I picked up info about her life, name, etc., from her obituary.
The world has changed, and if you can’t defeat it, then do your best to control it.
In a following blog post we’re going to chat about how you can do the best thing over being anonymous, controlling your own story.