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About 2 decades ago (late 90s/early 00s), when I was still in high school, I opened up social media accounts online. Over the course of a few years and using these social media platforms, I posted personally-identifying information about myself online.

Today, an old friend contacted me to inform me that someone is stalking me and had used those ancient social media platforms to dig up real-world details about my self. Quite honestly, I find this absolutely mortifying.

I no longer have access to the social media accounts where I posted those things. I also no longer have access to the email boxes that I had tied to those accounts, and my old e-mail provider (yahoo) has 100% completely denied helping me with getting access to them.

I am an adult with a professional career in software engineering now. As I reviewed my old social media accounts, I have experienced extreme self-apprehension about my mid-teenage'ed self's online persona. The information that I posted as a kid was extremely ... well, it does not reflect well on me, nor do they reflect the world views I hold today.

I am much wiser now. I know that by posting PII online as a kid that I had unwittingly set myself up for this scenario. I didn't know better at the time, but one thing is for certain; it has to go. If this information is weaponized against me, it could be used to sink my career and relationships with people around me. And yet, I have no ability to clean up that old stuff, simply because I no longer have the account credentials required to do so.

Short of changing my name and moving across the world to take on a new identity, what can I do to prevent/mitigate the damage that a malicious third-party could do if they weaponize my info?

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    Did you contact the social media companies operating those sites ? While you may have lost control of the associated E-mail account, you still have the ability to prove your identity. A manual review of your case should be possible.
    – Kate
    May 21, 2020 at 14:51

3 Answers 3

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You may have legal avenues that you can leverage, based on the which country you reside in.

If you live in a country that is part of the European Union or United Kingdom (GDPR still is applicable in the UK), you could try to leverage the use of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Basically with GDPR, you have a legal right to request the erasure of information that you deem is personal information about you on the internet. It basically can be inferred as the right to be forgotten, however there are a few exceptions.

If you live in the state of California in the US, according to California Civil Code §§ 1798.100 through 1798.198 (California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”)), you also have the legal right to ask for the removal of personal information. There are exceptions to where the CCPA does not apply.

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  • This is going to be very difficult if the person cannot access their account or the associated email, as the OP stated. Requests like this require that the person be verified.
    – schroeder
    May 27, 2020 at 7:34
  • It depends if those social media account has a clear enough picture of him on there, and he still holds an passport from that time of the social media accounts (of course it would be expired by now). Although then he may have to prove that the old passport is his, and hopefully there is information in those accounts that may match his old passport. May 28, 2020 at 0:58
  • IF the social media accounts have processes that allow for things like passports. Verification is a real challenge.
    – schroeder
    May 28, 2020 at 7:15
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Social media accounts allows you to recover accounts or You may ask social media platform to bring down those accounts if you don't have access to the source of recovering like, lost access to registered email id for social media account. You may report the account and explain your situation in the tech support.

I have seen people reporting there own accounts on Facebook when they lost there mail password to recover Facebook account's password. Facebook allows this by the use of reporting compromised accounts. Although I recommend to reach out to social media's support first, If no response is received then take steps to flag or report account.

There are also social media brute forcing tools available but your situation refers to bringing the information down which harms you career, so I will neither name/suggest those tools nor do I see a need to use them.

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You could always do what the politicians and governments do, which is to put out fake incriminating information about your past that looks good enough to be believed, but is easily disproved if someone digs deeper in to it. You know, there is some major flaw in it like you were in two far away places at the same time, or a picture has been photoshoped just badly enough so that it can be shown to be fake but only when analyzed. Then deliberately spread this information all around yourself. Even accidentally on purpose feed it to the person who is stalking you.

Now most everyone will not believe what is said about you.

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