This post, by co-op student Erin Siksay, is cross-posted from our youth blog.
I searched myself online the other day and came up with a profile I had created some years ago, complete with picture and date of birth, name, and e-mail address. So many websites require at least some personal information in order to view exclusive content or enjoy the services provided by the website, it gets difficult keeping track of all the websites I’ve signed up for. Inevitably, some end up being neglected or forgotten. Then, years later, they pop up when I’m feeling bored (and perhaps narcissistic) and searching myself online.
I had the website e-mail me my username and password so I could delete the account (and all of its revealing information) from their server so it wouldn’t appear in the search engine queue. (Luckily I’ve used the same e-mail address for many years). If you find yourself in the same situation but with an unknown or expired e-mail address, you can always write to the moderators or developers of the website and request that your profile be taken down or removed.
You may be selective with what information you put into an online profile, but with lots of profiles online it can become difficult to keep track of exactly what personal information is available on the web. One website might require a postal code, another a birthdate. Pieced together, these separate profiles can reveal a lot about the user. This combined profile can then be used for targeted marketing or even more malicious purposes.
Make sure your profile doesn’t come back to haunt you.