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Erasing yourself from the Internet

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Can you disappear from the Internet? Many want to wipe their Internet slate clean because of new job prospects, stalkers, creepers, etc. It's fairly easy to delete your Facebook account, but getting off the Internet entirely isn't as easy.

"Virtually impossible" said Detective Brad Less with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

Detective Less specializes in Internet crimes and says "there's not just one button you can push and your Internet history goes away."

Have you ever heard the expression "you are who Google says you are" or even tried "googling" yourself?

If you search your Twitter handle, there's a good chance you'll find your name and some of your tweets on several tweet tracking websites.

"You leave a digital trail of bread crumbs wherever you go and that means they type your name in Google and they don't just see one place, they see dozens of places where you may have had some sort of activity," said Lance Ulanoff.

Ulanoff is the editor in chief of Mashable.com, a leading source of resources for the connected generation.

"If you really want Google to expunge the existence of you online, so people can't find an index of you, yeah, you can go there and they can do it. But, you have to prove that you're you," he said.

And there are no guarantees. Fox 13 reached out to a Google spokesperson. We received this information:

Google's search results are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the web. Users who want content removed from the Internet should contact the webmaster of the page directly. Once the webmaster takes the page down from the web, it will be removed from Google's search results through our usual crawling process. If there is sensitive information that needs to be removed immediately, users can submit via the public URL removal tool https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals. Please note that there is a rate limit on how many requests a user can submit, so the tool should be reserved for URLs containing sensitive information.

Search engines do not have the ability to remove content or personal information directly from the Internet, so removing content from Google or another search engine would still leave the original content that exists on the web. We do not remove content from our search results, except in very limited cases such as illegal content and violations of our webmaster guidelines.

For more details on removing a site from Google's search results, check out our webmaster help center http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=164734&from=35301&rd=1.

If you believe a site is violating your legal rights and you are unable to resolve the issue with the webmaster, you can also fill out this form http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/request.py?hl=en&contact_type=legal_removals to notify Google.

URL removals for content that you don't own:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/static.py?page=ugc.cs&url=http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/url-removal-explained-part-iii-removing.html&signed_url=http://www.google.com/url?q=http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/url-removal-explained-part-iii-removing.html&usg=AFQjCNHshREtMh8FO-VyWeUNyWmUUEZE2Q

The alternative would be for you to contact the web master for the site you appear on and politely ask him or her to remove you.

"Don't say anything that you wouldn't want anybody else to see or wouldn't want your mother to read," said Detective Less.

After all, you never know who's watching.

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