Can you become invisible on the internet? Experts say 'not possible!'

In this digital era, it may be possible to vanish from people’s sight but it sure is impossible to ‘disappear from the internet.’ In fact, you cannot even fake a death on the internet – according to Frank Ahearn, a private investigator who specializes in helping people disappear and evade blackmailers. He also wrote the book, How to Disappear.

The majority of us utilize the World Wide Web to its maximum potential. And enter our real name in almost everything from email accounts to subscription of the various newsletters. However, at some point, many of us wish to just pull the plug? Press one button and unsubscribe to every move we made on the internet.

Unfortunately, Ahearn says that it is impossible. He says that even writing a fake obituary on the internet will direct more interest – and fill the web with more data about the individual. He also says that even after putting in extensive effort – deleting all accounts, switching to a VPN, and using an incognito browser would be sufficient to remove all data regarding a single person from the internet.

As they say, ‘the internet never forgets’ and most of us are not even aware of how a piece of basic information about us is distributed over the medium.

The Big Unsubscribe

Ahearn further elaborated that even if you delete all your social media accounts, there would be someone who would post your pics. It is also possible that some third party – either offline or online - you used 10 years ago ultimately decides to sell its data. And the next thing you know, you are back online with information that you don’t even remember sharing.

Ahearn suggests the best way to ‘vanish’ is to perhaps get lost in the crowd. He says that instead of killing a profile altogether, create multiple profiles of the same name with false birthdays, locations, interest, and other information. He even recommends seeding offline databases such as utility companies, cable companies with misinformation as well.

With this method, when a person searches for your name, they would have to sort through multiple accounts in order to find the real profile – which probably doesn’t exist!

Of course, the disinformation would not work when a government agency seeks to find your personal information – they will find you regardless of the number of fake Facebook accounts, you have made.

Internet privacy – a dream

The experts in this field say that there is no ideal level of internet privacy. Yes, it may be possible to mitigate your presence on the internet, but sometimes disappearing altogether does not make sense as well.

But there are some individuals who made disappearing possible. Just a couple of years ago, Bitcoin evangelist Jameson Lopp decided to hide himself completely from the World Wide Web. He is very much alive but even if you do a comprehensive Google search on him – you would fail to find even basic information like his birthdate, location, etc.

However, for him, it was made possible with a huge amount of money. And not many of us can afford such a major investment!

In a talk with the New York Times last year, the cryptocurrency engineer revealed that he created an LLC, invested in a decoy house, used a pseudonym with anyone he met in public and hired a private investigator. And it only cost him around $30,000 to make him nonexistent.

Hat Tip: Onezero.

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