Who is collecting and selling your data?
By now, you know that your information is valuable and is being sold and traded in the free market. Every click is tracked, email addresses are sold, and sometimes you just want it all to stop.
Lifehacker recently reposted a list similar to one on Reddit, detailing the top 50 companies who are mining and selling your data. Here is a look at the top ten on that list and how you can opt of MORE. All of the companies in this top ten list are data brokers, so each removal is different and in some cases, complicated.
Below is a list of where to go and what to do:
Ameridex: will process email and postal mail opt-outs where required by law. In general, this applies to police officers and other public officials. Their data is pulled from public records and is over seven years old. They will process written requests only if there is a safety issue. For applicable written opt-outs, send mail to Ameridex PO Box 193061 San Francisco CA 94119-3051. They do not block retrievals of listed telephone numbers. You must notify your telephone company to delist your telephone number.
By visiting the site’s FAQ section, you find the steps you will need to complete to remove your information. First, you will need search the site for your own information; you can do this from the BeenVerified homepage.
After you search for yourself, you will need to send an email to: email@example.com including the following information: your name (exactly as shown in your search), your age, current address (city, state, zip), previous addresses, and listed relatives. The site does say, that it does not guarantee this will permanently remove your information, as they collect data from multiple sources and constantly update. Even after you remove yourself from this list, you may want to check back again and make sure you have not reappeared.
3. Email Finder
Email Finder is a data mining company that you can remove your data from by filling out the opt-out form. Simply fill it out and you should be removed from the site. Prior to filling out the form, you may want to conduct a search to make sure there are not multiple listings of your name/email address on the site. After filling out the form, they suggest searching again to insure that your information has been successfully removed.
4. InfoPay EmailTracer
Under their Terms of Service of InfoPay EmailTracer, you can find information about opting-out, however, it is complicated. They state according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you may only opt-out if one of four conditions is present: (1) You are a state, local or federal law enforcement officer or public official and your position exposes you to a threat of death or serious bodily harm; or (2) you are a victim of identity theft; or (3) you are at risk of physical harm; or (4) you have evidence the record is incorrect or expunged. If any of these apply to you, you will need to follow the remaining five steps, which can be found here, near the bottom of the page.
Innovis is perhaps the most difficult company from which to opt-out. To completely remove yourself from Innovis, complete the opt-out form. You can also call toll free (1-888-567-8688), or you can mail your request to: Consumer Assistance, P.O. Box 405, Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0495. If you opt-out online, you can also opt-out of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Opting-out online only removes your name for five years, if you wish to opt-out permanently; you will need to do so by mail. To do this, simply print the electronic opt-out form and mail it back to Innovis.
LocatePLUS will remove your information upon sending them an email request to do so. However, the same four conditions apply. If you are a LocatePLUS client, you can change your information by logging in, but be aware LocatePLUS states, “we are prohibited from removing records of its certified users, even after they have cancelled their account. LocatePLUS is prohibited from removing the account information of its registered users from its database for record keeping purposes.” So even if one of the conditions apply; you still may not be able to remove your information successfully. LocatePLUS also receives data from third-party providers (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion), so you will need to visit these sites to insure your information is fully removed.
MelissaData.com will block the records “they have control over” in their data base if you send them a signed letter including: your full name, aliases, complete address, any former addresses going back 20 years, and date of birth. You should also include a print out of the records you wish to have removed. Mail your request to: Opt-Out/People-Finders.ws
1821 Q Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. They do not guarantee this will completely remove you from the site because of third-party information.
9. Meredith Corporation
To remove your name and postal address from lists that Meredith Corporation sells or rents to third parties for their direct marketing purposes, send your request to them in a letter addressed to: Meredith Corporation, Opt-Out Postal, Attn: Circulation, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309).
Unfortunately, it is impossible to remove yourself from thie Merkle list. They state, “Merkle does not collect data directly from consumers except for information collected as part of our clients’ marketing programs.”
Opt out of even more:
If you would like to see the complete list of all fifty companies that mine and sell your data, visit StopDataMining.Me.
Nate app: $38M Series A fintech startup you should keep an eye on
(TECHNOLOGY) The nate app combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform, streamlining the check-out process for hassle-free purchases.
No one likes to hop around from store to store searching aimlessly in aisles for all of their necessary items. That’s why the big guys win, like Walmart, Amazon, and Target – they have all you need in one swoop! Users choosing to shop online feel the same way. Having to reenter payment, billing, and shipping information over and over again becomes a pain – or worse, a deterrent to purchase, resulting in cart abandonment- that’s where the nate app comes in.
Nate combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform.
The well-funded, series A startup utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to complete purchases seamlessly without all of the fluff a user discovers when checking out at various online retailers. Once a user inputs shipping and payment information into the app during sign-up, nate keeps the data on file for subsequent purchases, virtually eliminating the time-consuming check out process. If a user sees a product they like from an online merchant, they simply have to “share” the item to the nate app, and it will take care of the rest.
Unicorner’s startup analysis states, “In essence, nate is bringing the benefits of shopping on a centralized platform like Amazon to a decentralized shopping ecosystem.”
With a nod to Pinterest and LikeToKnowIt, the platform allows for users to create visual product lists on a personal account that can be shared with followers. If a follower likes an item they see, they can purchase the item in-app in just a click or two.
In contrast to the big wigs of the social media world, the nate app hopes that users will purchase based on true inspiration and not a targeted algorithm suggesting what they should buy. Instead, the app runs its business model on a $1 fee for each transaction which covers the ability to issue virtual cards, protect online privacy, and apply available discounts.
The nate app simplifies gift giving as well. Users are able to select a gift item and enter the recipients phone number – if the recipient is a nate app user, it can be shipped directly – otherwise, they will receive a text asking them where to send their new gift! This makes it a perfect choice for the upcoming holidays (yes, 2021 is almost over…whew).
To stay up to date on everything nate, download it now on the App Store.
Facebook deletes developer over ironic browser extension invention
(TECHNOLOGY) Think a muted week for a nipple shadow is bad? Facebook just permabanned this inventor for…helping others to use the platform less.
It must be true that corporations are people because Facebook is pulling some seriously petulant moves.
In a stunt that goes beyond 24hr bans for harmless hyperbole, and chopping away at organic reach (still bitter from my stint in social media management), Facebook straight up permanently banned one of their users for the high crime of…aiming to get people to use the platform a little less.
Developer Louis Barclay came up with Unfollow Everything, an extension that basically instantly deleted your feed without having you unfriend anyone or unlike anything. Rather than have users manually go through and opt out of seeing posts, they’d now opt IN to keeping who they wanted front and center.
In his own words on Slate: “I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.”
Since more time spent on Facebook means more ads that you’re exposed to, means more you spend, the add-on started slowly making headway. I myself pretend to be a ranch owner to keep ads as irrelevant to me as possible (though my new addiction to hoof trimming videos is all too real), and Unfollow Everything probably would have been a great find for me if it hadn’t been killed by a cease and desist.
Law firm Perkins Coie, representing the internet giant, let Barclay know in their notice that Unfollow Everything violated the site’s rules on automated collection of user content, and was muscling in on Facebook trademarked IP.
They also added, in what I can only assume was a grade-school narc voice, that the add-on was “encouraging others to break Facebook’s rules.”
Barclay, not having the resources to fight a company with the finances of a small country, promptly ceased and desisted. Practical.
Officially speaking, Facebook might have actually have some ground to stand on vis-à-vis its Terms Of Service. The letter and legal team may have been warranted, not that we’ll ever truly know, since who’s taking Facebook to court? But then they followed up with a ‘neener neener’ deletion of Barclay’s 15 year old account – which was still very much in use.
Look, Facebook is the only way I connect with some of my friends. I don’t take enough pictures to make full use of Instagram, I fully hate Twitter, my Tumblr is inundated with R-rated fanfiction, and any other social media platform I’m happy to admit I’m too haggish and calcified to learn to use. So a complete WIPE of everything there with no notice would be pretty devastating to me. I can only imagine how Barclay felt.
And in light of the fact that the browser extension wasn’t hurting anyone, taking money, or spewing hateful rhetoric, there’s really only one thing to say about Facebook’s actions…they’re petty.
Sure, they may have the legal right to do what they did. It’s just that when you notice every fifth post is an unvetted advertisement, their high ground starts to sink a little. I mean nothing says ‘We’re being totally responsible with user information’ like the number of add ons and user tactics popping up to avoid seeing the unnecessary. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Facebook put up a fight against losing ad traffic.
We all know all those stores with amazing deals aren’t actually going out of business, or even using their own photos right? Right?
Barclay added in his article, “Facebook’s behavior isn’t just anti-competitive; it’s anti-consumer. We are being locked into platforms by virtue of their undeniable usefulness, and then prevented from making legitimate choices over how we use them—not just through the squashing of tools like Unfollow Everything, but through the highly manipulative designs and features platforms adopt in the first place. The loser here is the user, and the cost is counted in billions of wasted hours spent on Facebook.”
Agreed, Mr. Barclay.
Now I’m off to refresh my feed. Again.
Glowbom: Create a website, using just your voice
(TECH NEWS) Talk about futuristic! This app allows you to create quizzes, surveys, an online store, and even a website in minutes–without typing.
In the past, we’ve discussed things like simplified coding and no-code app creation. Now, a San Francisco startup has taken the process a step further with no-type app creation.
Glowbom is a voice app that allows you to dictate steps to an AI – from adding information all the way to exporting code–in order to create a simple app, survey, or game. While the built-in options for now are limited to four simple categories, the power of the app itself is impressive: By asking the Glowbom AI to complete tasks, one is able to dictate an entire (if small) program.
It’s an impressive idea, and an even more impressive product. Glowbom founder and CEO Jacob Ilin showcases the power of Glowbom in a short demonstration video, and while he only uses it to create a simple survey, the entire process–up to and including the exportation of the API–is accomplished via voice commands.
Furthermore, Glowbom appears to process natural inputs–such as phrases like “Let’s get started”–in the context of an actual command rather than the colloquial disconnect one tends to expect in AI. This means that users won’t need to read a 700-page manual on phrases and buzzwords to use before jumping on board–something the Glowbom user base was probably hoping to avoid anyway.
As of now, the options one can use Glowbom to create include a quiz, a survey, an online store, and a website. It seems reasonable to expect that, as support for the app grows, those categories will expand to comprise a larger library.
Glowbom certainly opens a few doors for people looking to take their businesses or ideas from an offline medium into the digital marketplace. As coding becomes less centralized in computer language and more contingent on processes such as this, we can expect to see more products from folks who may have missed the coding boat.
Perhaps more importantly, Glowbom and products like it make coding more accessible to a wider base of disabled users, thus taking a notable step toward evening the playing field for a marginalized demographic. It’s not true equality, but it’s a start.
This story was first published here in October 2020.
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