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On the Web

  • Hide your email address on social net­work­ing sites.
    Face­book, Live­Jour­nal and oth­er sites let you hide your con­tact infor­ma­tion, or only reveal it to your “friends.”
  • Remove your­self from web-based directories
    There’s been some progress in this area since I first wrote this arti­cle a few years back. Sev­er­al of the peo­ple direc­to­ries are now offer­ing the option of hav­ing your­self listed—so old friends and fam­i­ly can find you—but hid­ing your email address. Peo­ple can still send mes­sages to you, but unless you choose to reply they will not know your email address. That keeps spam­mers from scoop­ing the address and adding it to their lists. I under­stand that WhitePages and WhoWhere are offer­ing this fea­ture now.

    Go to all of the peo­ple direc­to­ries you can find and search to see if your name is in them. If it is, and it isn’t one of the ones that will shield your email address, request that they remove you from their lists. Each direc­to­ry has direc­tions for doing this some­where on their site, although some are hard­er to find than oth­ers. They will prob­a­bly try to dis­suade you by point­ing out that their terms as post­ed on their sites pro­hib­it the use of the infor­ma­tion in their direc­to­ries for any unso­licit­ed email, but they have absolute­ly no way to enforce that and the spam­mers hap­pi­ly ignore their rules all the time.

  • Watch that mem­ber directory!
    AOL users should def­i­nite­ly go in and delete the mem­ber pro­files for every one of their screen names, as spam­mers just love that Mem­ber Direc­to­ry. Some­one told me that pro­files are auto­mat­i­cal­ly cre­at­ed for each screen name now, with your real name, so check even if you did­n’t ever cre­ate a pro­file your­self. Oth­er ISPs some­times have sim­i­lar direc­to­ries, so ask yours if that’s the case—and if so, get your email address tak­en out of it. The same goes for clubs that you join offline. I recent­ly found my email address in the mem­ber direc­to­ry of a knit­ting guild I joined, pub­lished online for the whole world to see.

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Pho­to by Aubrey Odom-Mabey on Unsplash