How Much Does the Internet Know About You? Let’s Find Out

One thing you probably don’t know yet is that the Internet knows almost everything about you. After Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, revealed to the whole world how the government was running surveillance programs, people became increasingly conscious of their online activity.

If you are a frequent Internet user, the chances are that there is plenty of your personal information floating around somewhere on the Internet. The business of spying, buying, and selling personal data is booming, and anyone, including your acquaintances and non-governmental organizations, can make a killing from it.

How Does the Internet Get Information About You?

The Internet is quite broad, and it encompasses software and applications like Amazon, Google, Instagram, Facebook, and Microsoft. There is so much information about you that can be retrieved from social media platforms, message boards, or other sites you signed in to and probably forgot about. Many people today cannot grasp just how valuable personal data is to their safety.

Of all social media platforms, Facebook is arguably the one that collects most of your personal information. Some of the information gathered by Facebook and other similar platforms include data related to your residence, work, race, religion, and political views.

Today, there are several different data points where one can collect your personal information. Such data collection loopholes include your internet device, email address, phone number, and even location.

You Know You’re Being Tracked, Right?

Many people make the mistake of assuming that privacy violation only happens to people in the public domain. Today more than ever before, data collection is at an all-time high, and different data collection platforms are offering to sell information just about anyone.

To see what personal data is already out there, visit Nuwber and look for yourself. Doing that will give you an idea of what personal details can be gathered from all the public documents and records.

Platforms that provide information about other people are usually referred to as data broker sites. Over the past couple of years, the number of data broker sites has increased significantly. Most of these sites share the information for free since they rely on ads to bring in revenue. While most of these platforms are free to use, some like Intelius give crucial information such as criminal records for a small fee. It is worth mentioning, however, that not all the information available on these platforms is accurate.

What Happens to the Information Gathered?

In a bid to target advertisements and drive up sales, websites are capitalizing on cookies to track your online activity. The information gathered by these sites is often sold to third parties and then utilized to generate hyper-targeted ads. Cookies are not just used by websites; browser extensions and apps use them too. Simply put, your internet activity is being tracked whether you know it or not.

There are many platforms offering to help conduct background checks. One of the easiest ways of finding information about yourself or anyone else on the Internet is by simply searching your phone number, name, or any other personal information.

When you conduct such a search either on Google or Bing, you will likely find out something about yourself. Carrying out searches on search engines may yield results, but the best way to get more detailed information about yourself or a stranger is from data collection sites.

What to Do

The Internet is wider than most people think. It is divided into two parts; the deep web and the surface web. Many people only use the surface web and rarely, if ever, get to access the deep web. The surface web is the most visited part of the World Wide Web, and it comprises websites that can be found on popular search engines like Bing and Google.

On the other hand, the deep web comprises databases that are not indexed on popular search engines. The deep web is where people’s personal information is bought and sold easily. The big question now is, what can you do about the information available about you online?

If you would like to do something about the information about you on the Internet, you will be pleased to know that there are a couple of things you could do.

●    Opt-out

First, you can get in touch with data aggregators and request them to strike you off their database. Data collection sites allow people to contact them either via email or directly from their site. For these data collectors to erase your data, they will often require you to provide proof of identification either via your driving license or state ID.

The only limitation to getting rid of your data online this way is that there are several data collection sites both on the surface web and on the deep web. For you to remove your data from all these data collectors, you may have to dig deep into your pocket. While getting rid of all the information about you online might be an uphill task, at least you get to do something about it, right?

Different data brokers have their unique conditions regarding removing your information. You can check out their instructions by visiting their respective websites.

●    Manage your online and offline privacy settings

Another way of ensuring there is limited information about you on the Internet is by effectively managing your private data. Most of the information available about you is usually gathered from social media accounts, blogs, and other platforms where you might have signed up.

This is why it’s almost impossible even for data collectors to help you scrap out your data because it still pops up again. The best way to manage your info is by going back to the accounts you’ve signed in to and managing your privacy settings.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that the Internet knows so much about all of us. Finding information about yourself or another person is relatively easy yet scary at the same time. With data collector websites on the rise, it is only wise that you go out of your way to safeguard your data proactively.

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