'I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me'

Just as soon as I’m finished writing up this post, I’m going to the App Store to download DeleteMeMobile. Here’s what it’s supposed to do:

DeleteMeMobile which launched for iOS devices in the Apple App Store on Monday and already has several thousand users — aims to strip your personal data from many of the largest websites that collect and sell it, including Spokeo and Intelius.

These sites collect a huge amount of information about you, from estimated net worth, religious and political affiliations, children’s names, websites visited and articles read (yikes).


The DeleteMe app is free to search what kind of information is out there about you and it comes with one removal from any data broker site. After that, there is a $24.99 subscription for three months with unlimited deletions. The app is similar to the company’s web-based DeleteMe service.

Here’s how the app works: After downloading it and providing some basic information to sign up, the app searches data-broker sites looking for information about you. About eight results listings will pop up for the typical user. A user can click the results by saying “This isn’t me” if it’s not a proper match or hitting “DeleteMe” to remove the data.

Pricy, but maybe worth it if it works as advertised. It certainly reminds me of Catwoman’s MacGuffin from The Dark Knight Rises. So I’ll try it out and report back to you. But you might ask if it works with Facebook, after reading this next story from Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo:

Today, Facebook finally made itself useful. It gave us a reason to care about likes, check-ins and tags. That reason is a search engine, which Facebook is calling Graph Search. It’s a feature that many users have long demanded. Now, you can type in simple queries to find the most interesting photos, businesses, or media among your connections or across Facebook’s hordes. For instance, if you want to know which TV shows your friends enjoy, just type “TV shows liked by my friends” into the new search box at the top of your screen. And you can go even further, slicing up your network—or even all of Facebook’s users—into tinier and tinier niches. If you’re a New Yorker who’s planning a Girls party, try “friends who like Girls who live in NYC.” If you’re a guy looking for a deeper connection, add a few more parameters: “photos of friends of friends who like Girls who live in NYC who are single women between 20 and 34 and like Arcade Fire.”

I don’t know about you, but this gives me the heebie-jeebies. My acquaintance Patrick Ruffini is all excited about it, but he’s one of those crazy-smart data-mining statistical-analysis types. Me, I’m a guy who spends a lot of time posting his professional and personal life on the internet — and Facebook has me seriously rethinking the latter.

If you’d really like to protect your privacy, a good first step probably isn’t a new iOS step. You’d probably be better off just avoiding all those Like and Share buttons. I’ll still use them professionally — and all of us here at PJMedia would love it if you did, too.

But personal likes and shares? Maybe we should do those the old-fashioned way, with a phone call or over the dinner table.