The time of privacy has more or less ended, thanks to modern information technology, making it almost impossible to stay out of the public eye. Anyone who has spent a substantial amount of time on the internet has left digital footprints leading back to them. Most people assume this is limited to those who regularly use social media and post fairly sensitive information.
Unfortunately, the internet is full of programs and subroutines designed to collect information from various sources. While most of this data is collected to expedite services and streamline login attempts, some companies have gathered this information for other purposes. One of the biggest privacy concerns is the number of data broker websites that collect information and redistribute it to any curious user with a credit card.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of data broker websites that collect your information so their users and subscribers can access it. Some data broker sites have pure intentions and only want to help people reconnect or avoid felons. Others are less scrupulous and will give out the information for any reason as long as they are paid.
One website that has grown over the years is PeekYou, which has become one of the most successful data broker sites since the internet was first created. Unfortunately, their success might come at your expense if they have indexed information best kept private. Therefore, the question on people’s minds is: How can we remove our information from PeekYou’s database?
What is PeekYou?
PeekYou is a data broker website that advertises itself as a search engine for people, allowing users to look up anyone they want. The website functions by indexing individuals through easily accessible background information and combines it with active social media accounts. The end result is a fairly comprehensive report on that individual. The company was first founded in 2006 by a man named Michael Hussey, who, by all accounts, still owns it.
PeekYou is based in New York City but has worked to gather records on both American and Canadian citizens. In doing so, PeekYou has successfully indexed over 250,000,000 people and offers the information they have gathered to all users. The information stored on the results page includes several key identifying features to help users identify the correct report. A typical PeekYou outline reveals the following information:
- The subject’s first and last name (and their middle initial if applicable).
- The subject’s age.
- The subject’s hometown and state.
- The subject’s possible relatives.
These details are provided in the preview offered in the initial search results, but the website partners with other data broker websites to compile more information. The main partners include TruthFinder, Spokeo, Instant Checkmate, and BeenVerified. PeekYou ultimately serves as a nexus from which you can access the results from these other websites.
Unfortunately, they also incorporate information from more reputable sources like the phonebook. They also link to URLs containing additional information like blogs, Wikipedia articles, news sources, etc. The truly terrifying part is that they also provide direct links to the subject’s social media accounts. Among the URLs they link to are:
- The subject’s Facebook profile.
- The subject’s LinkedIn profile.
- The subject’s Instagram profile.
- The subject’s TikTok account.
- The subject’s X (formerly Twitter) profile.
- The subject’s Myspace profile.
The search results from PeekYou do not provide addresses or other geographic information directly, but the broker sites they partner with do. The desire to remove your name and information from PeekYou’s domain is understandable, but you might be concerned about the degree of difficulty such a goal entails.
How to Opt-Out of PeekYou
Data broker websites are not keen on removing information from their domain since that information is how they make money. Without a healthy database of people, the sites cannot make any more money. As a result, most data broker sites make the opt-out process as arduous as possible to demotivate users and get them to give up on removing their data. They do this by making the process overly complicated and convoluted and sometimes making the opt-out page extremely difficult to find.
Some websites even host it on a completely different URL to further confuse people and prevent the loss of information. Fortunately, PeekYou seems to be an exception to this practice, and the website makes it easier to find the page and execute the request. Nevertheless, it is important to know the exact details to ensure your information is not spread further than you want.
The first step to removing your data from PeekYou’s domain is to access the domain’s URL by typing it into the search engine of your choice and clicking the link. Once you are on PeekYou’s homepage, scroll down to the very bottom, and you will see a line of text, in the middle of which there is a link that says, “Do Not Sell My Personal Information.”
Click this link to redirect you to the opt-out request page. Alternatively, you can follow this link to access the page directly from this article: https://www.peekyou.com/about/contact/ccpa_optout/do_not_sell/. Once there, you will be greeted with a form to fill out that might appear daunting but is very simple.
This form will require you to fill out the following information:
- Your first name.
- Your last name.
- Your e-mail address. (PeekYou uses the e-mail address you submit to correspond with you further after confirming your request.)
- Verify your e-mail address.
- Your home city.
- Your home state.
- Your ZIP code.
- The Unique ID of the profile page you are trying to remove. This can be found at the end of the URL of the profile you access and is typically a 9-digit number.
- Any associated social media accounts on the profile.
- Any associated PeekYou URLs.
Once you complete this form, you will be asked to complete a CAPTCHA to confirm you are not an automated process. In this instance, the CAPTCHA only requires you to click the box and will not subject you to one of the tiresome CAPTCHA games like clicking all the photos of buses. Afterward, you will have to check off 4 boxes that confirm different things about you:
- “Under penalty of perjury, I declare the above information is true and correct, and that I am the person, or the authorized agent of the person, whose name appears above.”
- “I understand that I will be required to validate my request by e-mail and I may be contacted to complete this request.”
- “I understand and agree that this request will be processed in accordance with applicable law.”
- “I understand that removal of information from www.peekyou.com does not constitute removal from the internet, and that my information may still be available on other public websites. As such, I understand that my information may resurface on www.peekyou.com if I do not take steps to limit my privacy settings on other websites and/or remove my information from those websites.”
Check off all 4 boxes and click the “Submit” button at the bottom of the form to fulfill your request. Once you have completed these steps, check your e-mail immediately for the confirmation they sent. This e-mail allows you to confirm the removal request and will trigger a secondary e-mail asking you to confirm your name, location, and the listing URL. Supposedly, this secondary confirmation will help the PeekYou team expedite the process and ensure speedy removal. Once you reply to that e-mail, you will eventually receive a third one that confirms your listing was removed.
Removing your information from PeekYou is extremely important to protecting your information and, by extension, yourself. Plenty of people would happily take advantage of the information on PeekYou for their own gain. Unfortunately, removing your data from PeekYou’s domain is only the first step since they aggregate the results of 4 other data broker websites and link directly to your social media accounts.
Therefore, you must ensure that those resources are resolved, too. Due to certain constraints, we will not cover removing your information from Spokeo, Instant Checkmate, or BeenVerified in this article. As for TruthFinder, we refer you to our guide for removing your data from that website. Fortunately, we can at least review methods for securing your social media accounts to prevent sites like PeekYou from distributing a direct link to their users.
While the collection tools of certain websites and agencies are a little more difficult to overcome, you retain complete control over your social media profiles. Specifically, you can limit who can access your profile at any given moment and ensure that no one you do not approve of can view it.
PeekYou specifically targets Facebook, Myspace, TikTok, Instagram, and X, which all have privacy settings you can use to protect your accounts. Setting each of your profiles to private will prevent strangers from accessing them and inhibit the impact sites like PeekYou have on your privacy. The only exception is Myspace since the original website is no longer operational, and those who used it have since transitioned to contemporary platforms. If you have an account on the current iteration of Myspace, you can still set it to Restricted to prevent unwanted traffic.
Securing your social media accounts does more than prevent PeekYou and other sites from offering direct links. It helps protect your profile from scrutiny that might affect your social standing. Removing your personal information from any site that resells information has a similar effect, and the benefits go beyond protecting you from stalkers.
Why it Matters
PeekYou and other data broker websites provide information on your physical whereabouts and connect you to relatives and associates. Some of these relatives and associates might have made mistakes or even engaged in illegal activities that drew notoriety from the public. Family members of unpopular politicians are an easy target for people who need to direct their rage and frustration.
Even if you are no longer associated with the person in question, the data broker sites present your information as though they are still a part of your life. This can directly affect your reputation since people tend to subscribe to the “guilty by association” mentality. Even if your association was publicly renounced, past offenses are still enough to earn the ire of many groups and individuals with a strong opinion of that person.
Additionally, the connection to social media accounts can expose certain ill-advised activities or sentiments from your past that no longer reflect who you are. This has a similar effect since you will still be judged by your past actions rather than your current philosophies and mentality. Shoring up your information and minimizing the number of people accessing it is essential to protecting your public image. Unfortunately, considering the internet’s expansion, this can be an overwhelmingly large task. Therefore, you might need to recruit a little backup.
Take Your Reputation Back!
Data brokers can be one of the most frustrating organizations to deal with, especially considering how many of them focus more on their profit than your comfort. Reducing the amount of readily available information about you is essential to protecting yourself and your reputation. Unfortunately, addressing these sites is almost always complicated and time-consuming. There are also more data broker websites every day that make it harder and harder for you to keep track of everything. Fortunately, this is where we can help.
We at Reputation understand the importance of your reputation and want to help you protect it from the damage a data broker can cause. We offer a comprehensive list of services that can help companies and individuals alike manage their reputations. Among the services we offer are social media management (so we can set your accounts to “Private” on your behalf) and the ability to issue takedown requests for you. We scour the internet for any potential threats and work hard to help keep your public image as clear as possible. There are no shortcuts concerning your public image, so visit our website today and take your reputation back!
Do you have any questions about PeekYou, how to remove your information from the website, or anything else we discussed in this article? If so, please feel free to let us know at any time. We’d be more than happy to assist you however we can.