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What to do when your Google search results are a dumpster fire

What to do when your Google search results are a dumpster fire

One Facebook scandal away from moving to the woods? Considering applying to graduate school? You’re ready to delete social media. Or at least, some social media. But if it’s your time, here’s how to do it.

On Facebook, the process is nearly the same as deactivating your account, except after 30 days your data will permanently be expunged from the company’s servers (read the instructions here). You can also download your data ahead of time (photos, messages, etc) so you have access to it moving forward. topp 10 hetaste kvinnor i vГ¤rlden If you’re one of those people who “has to have Facebook” because you “need to remember people’s birthdays,” there’s a tool for that. Once you sign up, it’ll download friend’s birthdays and email you on the right day (as a bonus, this service claims to be very privacy-centric). Obviously, Facebook now owns Instagram (and WhatsApp), so you’ll probably want to delete that too.

King notes that going dark isn’t possible for everyone. “In some ways, it becomes a privileged statement to say you don’t need to be online. A lot of states are providing public assistance online. If you want to apply for any job now, you don’t walk around filling out paper applications.”

If you’ve ever done something unfortunate on the internet (like tweeted an AIDS joke or accidentally posted a naked photo), you might want to bring in the professionals. A host of online reputation management companies like Metal Rabbit and Reputation Defender are there to help you transform your Google search results by creating more flattering content.

I can’t, because I have the attention span of a bumble bee and need something to look at on the bus

I thought this was a joke when I first heard it, but it’s now become common practice. After a scandal, these companies sweep in like Olivia Pope, taking real parts of your biography and expanding them into articles and personal websites to push down the negative content. “If you manage your search results, you put your best foot forward,” says Metal Rabbit founder Bryce Tom. “Humans are just naturally lazy. The more content you put in a centralized location, the easier it is that they’ll see what you want them to see and not see what you don’t.” It’s worth noting these services are pretty expensive.

And finally, what to do if you want to go fully AWOL (good luck with that!)

This is difficult – if not impossible – to do. You’ll need to permanently delete, not just deactivate, all social media. You’ll need to start checking out as a guest when shopping online so companies don’t store your email address (though some will anyway – nothing you can do about that). Next, request that data brokers delete your data, and remind them to delete it every few months so they don’t start sneakily recollecting it.

Surprisingly, there are more than a few risks associated with erasing your online presence. When you delete social media profiles, “you’re creating a void” in Google search results, “and allowing something else to pop into the top 10,” says Tom. If someone publishes information about you in the future, it’ll likely be more easily discoverable. Tom suggests deleting the content from your profiles but keeping them active instead. Less satisfying, sure, but potentially safer.

Finally, if asked for an email or phone number, don’t provide a real one unless you absolutely have to. Using services like Airbnb will become nearly impossible, since no one can verify your identity – but since you’re living in the woods anyway, does it matter?

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