Can you help me with a tough question in regards to privacy and identity online?

Lostman September 9, 2011
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I have a tough question in regards to managing one’s identity, yet at the same time, managing personal privacy when you have a rare name. First I’m going to explain why they are both important to me:

I have have members in the family in both the police corruption branch, and have had members work in the prison system. This alone, is dangerous. But what can be done with a last name so rare that it can physically track my home address and other personal details even though we are set to private? I was so curious whether its possible to track me down with my first and last name that I hired someone who knew nothing about me other than my first and surname. He was able to find newspaper articles that mentioned the suburb I’m in, he also found social network profiles, blogs, usernames, etc that eventually led to him knowing half my life. The scary part is – he said – it didn’t take very much effort at all for him to build a profile on me.

I have switched to false names online apart from the sites that have the “real-name policy”, which has now caused some issues. I’ve noticed people on the internet use my photos, my old email addresses, and overall slandering my name and reputation on the web. This cannot go on. I’m pretty sure I’ve read an article on makeuseof about many employers searching Google before hiring people – this is where problems may arise. I’m letting my online identity run wild and I’m sure it won’t look good to potential employers.

So what can be done? Is it more a privacy vs identity matter where I have to ultimately choose one over another? I have also considered the extreme measures such as changing my name where it is possible to start fresh and manage both my privacy and identity at the same time.

What are everyone’s thoughts on this matter?


  1. Aibek
    September 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    In regards to your privacy and safety of the family members I would suggest checking out a company called Reputation. We list them on our best 100 websites page, //

    They are not able to remove the stuff you don't want to have online but also creat certain webpages that will come up as top search resultswhen potential employers run a search on you.

  2. Anonymous
    September 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    You can hire some agents that legally can erase your former idendity from google index, but this takes time and money, if some people got already your former id and contact you cant do anything about it if they republish on the net again.

    email address can be changed easily but regarding NAME that is a little difficult to change a legal idendity.

    If you protect your idendity then for sure you protect your privacy, privacy can only protect idendity if it is full privacy, so is like protecting idendity.

  3. Mulder
    September 10, 2011 at 1:26 am

    I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "personal details even though we are set to private". Your personal details are only as public as you make them, and if you've done that, there's no easy way to go back.

    Sure, you can legally change your name, but there's a legal record of that, which is public information. If someone is actually "slandering" you, then you have a right of legal action; but the question you need to consider is how much it will cost you, and whether or not it will just bring more attention to the very thing you don't want publicized.

    If your photos are being used by others on the Internet, you can request those web sites take them down, as you hold the copyright, but you should be prepared to prove it in case they ask. As for your older email addresses being used by others, that makes no sense, since old email addresses are not recycled and given to someone else.

    You should try to be much more clear as to what you want to accomplish, and how far you're willing to go to do that. Some things aren't worth all the fuss, and employers don't rely on Google or any other web site for accurate information about employees or potential employees.