You can do anything from making millions BILLIONS of dollars to finding your soulmate on the web.  How you use it depends on how involved you want to be with modern society. You can have it all but not be all out there for everyone to see. Here’s how you can protect yourself while using the World Wide Web.

It is without question the genie is out of the bottle and can never ever be put back.  The future with the internet is here and we have to embrace it whether we like it or not and unfortunately ignoring it won’t do.  The web with or without your consent will and can represent you.  Kinda like not having much choice of whether you want the 3 credit bureaus to represent you or not.

However it’s not hopeless.  You can control most of how you’re represented on the web but needs proactive action and not reaction.

Here are some ways you can be on the web without you actually giving permission:

  1. 99.99% : by the 3 Credit Bureaus because they can but usually kept private until someone wants the data in exchange for money.
  2. 95% : Local/State/Fed Governments post you on the web.  Particularly Local/State level due to laws on private and commercial property ownership.  ie a house or a plot of land.
  3. 90% : 3rd service vendors who use a technique called: scraping
    Gets deep buried information on you but not readily public but accessible if you know where to look.   Like your local government agencies such as County Clerk of Records etc.  Although the State doesn’t out right post you on the web.   Again, if you look hard enough it’s there.. by law.
  4. 5% :  your friends may inadvertently post something about you indirectly about a picture or function you attended etc…
  5. 2% : Facial recognition capabilities like those of on Facebook maybe able to pick you out of a crowd where you were accidently caught on an image.  Consider how many vacation pictures people are on captured inadvertently as you strolled by?
  6. <1% : You personally gave out the data.

So what can you do from having the internet miss-representing you?  Here are some steps you can take to prevent someone or some company from presenting you or worse misrepresenting you.

  1. Register yourself.  Whether you use the service or not.  If it doesn’t cost anything to register then do so.  Use your real full name so there is no mistake in who you are.  However you don’t have to give out any personal information outside of your name and maybe your hometown.   As for birthdate and other very private information.  Use a made up info but remember what they are!!!  Making up a birthdate is no problem but as for fictious place.  If possible use like POB or an address you know that does not exist.
  2. Upload a profile picture.   Upload any picture but make sure the filename of the picture and any "tags" associated with it is your full name.    When search engines like Google scraps for that information, since it can’t make you out in a picture.  It can only go by the filename and/or tag words associated with that picture.  So best to make sure the picture whatever it is has your name associated with it.    Recommend do not use a picture of a jackass or donkey for your profile picture ;-)
  3. Keep the account alive.  Make sure periodically you login and goto your account to not only keep it alive but make sure it’s not hacked.  So be sure you use a strong not so obvious password.

Here are some high profile "Social Networking" type of services where you would the highest visibility.

  • Facebook.com  Largest asof 2011 of the social network.
  • Twitter.com Also the largest of microblogging services.
  • Google.com Try to your Gmail account with  your name.

Also there are some leeching parasitic services that puts you out there with more information about you then you ever want anyone to know.  They leech these information from what they say is "publically available" but of
course they won’t tell where that public information is.   However by law different state to state some offers rights to provide some way for you to opt yourself out of their listing.    Here are some highly visible what’s called a People Search engine. 

The links below will take you directly to where you could request to be removed.

  1. Spokeo.com Nasty listing service that gives very bad misinformation like your income, marital status, your net worth etc… unbelievably private info… none of it accurate.
  2. Intelius.com Catch-22.. give your private info to get your "private info" off of their databases.
  3. Yahoo.com
  4. Google.com

There are countless of these services and their own special way of opting
out.  Best to simple do a little searching and probing on their sites to best rid of your private information.  

In Conclusion:  By law you have the right to be private but You must be proactive and not reactive.  On the net, if you react to something, it’s already too late.