This post has been modified to reflect new information since its original publication.
When this article was originally written in 2012, Pipl did have a removal process that allowed you to opt out of their directory. Unfortunately, Pipl has changed its business model and no longer accepts removal requests. This article has been updated to discuss other ways of protecting your privacy from Pipl.
What is Pipl?
Pipl is essentially a search engine for names. You punch in somebody’s name or username into the search engine, optionally including their location, and Pipl will offer all the information it can find on that person.
Pipl also provides an API and “file completion” services for businesses that want to mine personal information for marketing, sales or other purposes.
How accurate is Pipl?
Accuracy varies from person to person, since data is collected algorithmically. Pipl itself states that it doesn’t analyze, verify, or otherwise examine the data that it collects. However, they will at times update incorrect information if you contact them to have it changed.
In most cases, however, this will not help you protect your privacy—quite the opposite. We don’t recommend contacting Pipl unless the information associated with your name is harming your reputation through false associations to unsavory characters.
What information does Pipl collect?
Pipl scours essentially any publicly available information on the Internet. Social networking accounts, LinkedIn profiles, blogs, news articles, address books, government public records, and any other material that may be tied to your identity can be included in their profiles.
How can I protect my data from Pipl?
The only way to get data removed from Pipl is to remove it from the sources that Pipl searches. In many cases, this isn’t practical. For example, many people rely on LinkedIn for professional purposes, and LinkedIn is one of Pipl’s primary sources of personal information.
That said, there are three things you can do to decrease your visibility on Pipl:
Remove the sources you control
Find your profile on Pipl and look through the information provided. In most cases, Pipl lists the source of the data. Some of these sources will be profiles that you control. For example, if it is taking information from your Facebook profile, it means that your Facebook privacy settings are not strong enough. Log into Facebook, verify your settings, and change anything that says “public” to “private”.
Remove your data from other people-search sites
There are dozens of people-search services like Pipl that do allow you to opt out. Each has a specific opt-out procedure, and some are more complicated than others. Nevertheless, the more of these sites you opt out from, the fewer sources of data will be available to Pipl. Check out our article on how to remove yourself from people-search sites, or consider one of our privacy services, which automate the opt-out process for you.
This often occurs when there aren’t many unique websites about you online. By creating a personal or business website, generating media coverage, or otherwise publishing information about your personal or professional interests, you can push your Pipl profile down so that fewer searchers find it. If this seems like too much effort, our namesake ReputationDefender product can help do this for you.
Take control of your search results
Some people will visit Pipl directly to search for you, but Pipl is not a household name like Google or Facebook. The majority of people who come across your Pipl profile are likely to have found it in your search results.
It might seem counterintuitive that you can protect your privacy by publishing online, but the strategy involved is to control the message. When someone conducts a search in Google or Bing, fewer than 10% go past the first page, statistically speaking. If you can get your Pipl profile off of page 1, then the vast majority of people looking for you will not see it.
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Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding the fact that the solutions for protecting your personal information from Pipl are imperfect. Many of the laws that govern this type of data collection and distribution were drafted before the Internet was fully formed. As such, they leave gaping loopholes that certain companies exploit to our detriment.
That said, the more you do to control your online reputation and opt out where you can, the better protected you will be. Most of the bad actors looking to take advantage of personal information go after the low-hanging fruit. If you make your information harder to find, chances are they’ll move onto someone else instead.