Exploring your visible data traces

Taking a deeper look at your visible online footprint can be a first step toward taking more control over your data and managing your online identities

Last Updated: 12 Oct 2016

Most of us have probably searched our own name at some point. But search engines don't pick up everything. Investigating yourself on the internet can be a very useful way to see what's already out there about you, and make decisions for the future

Once you’ve had a look at what's out there, take a critical look at the data, think about what a stranger may be able to figure out with just a little effort. You might want to keep certain things private or separate your online identities.

First steps

  1. Before you start, make sure you log out of your email and social media accounts, clear your browser history and cookies, and use privacy-protecting search engine like DuckDuckGo. It is also good idea to take notes as you go along, on what you have done and what you have found.
  2. Start by creating a list of all your usernames. Then do a search for your name and all your different usernames in a search engine. Note that it is recommended to use a privacy-protecting search engine.
  3. Next, go to different social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Flickr, and search for your name and user names. What do these platforms reveal about you?

Further investigation tactics      

  1. List all your email addresses and also do a search on them.  
  2. Gather current and past numbers phone numbers and do reverse lookups
  3. Collect your profile pictures and do a reverse image search. Google reverse image search will give you similar images, sites that include the images and other sizes of the image you searched for.
  4. Search for your profile picture on TinEye reverse image search, which will reveal which other websites have posted your picture.   

For more, as well as how-tos on identity management, have a look at Tactical Tech's Gender and Tech wiki.