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Seen At 11: Online Data Damage Control

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Internet doesn’t lose track of anyone.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, a bad post, an incriminating picture or a nasty comment can live on the web forever — or does it?

“I’m always aware of what I’m putting online,” said college student Kendall Lavalle.

“Usually I delete the post,” said college student Abhishek Vijay.

Detectives with the computer crimes forensic lab at the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said they receive hundreds of calls from parents asking to have inappropriate images or information on their child removed from the Internet.

Adults even call to say ex-lovers are posting nude pictures of them online, Sloan reported.

“Without exaggeration, it is beginning to reach epidemic proportions,” said Lt. Jason Love, with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

Love’s unit takes action when the case is criminal such as with child pornography.

Most reputable sites will delete those images immediately, even if it is sexting between minors, Sloan reported.

“We would be able to go in and look for deleted or un-allocated information that was on that hard drive or the tablet or phone,” said Love.

If you’re looking for a job or applying for colleges, even scholarships, anything unflattering, laced with profanity, or racially charged can come back to haunt you.

“The first thing that they do after they do a check on your records, they do a search for you online,” said R. Gary Zell.

Zell’s ThirdParent works with parents to grade their child’s activity online.

“If I look through here I see there is a fail with Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat,” Zell said.

So what can you do to try and get something removed? Zell’s ThirdParent also helps to minimize the damage that can be done by unflattering material.

First, try to contact the website directly. Ask them to voluntarily remove bad images or material.

If that fails, make sure the information doesn’t top the list of an engine search, Sloan reported.

“To put it so far down the list that it is not affecting you anymore because very few people are going to go to page eight, page nine to try to find information about someone,” Zell said.

“The next thing we do is try put as much good information about the child out there. Let’s talk about his community service. Let’s build some websites that talk about his sports ability,” he added.

Zell’s ThirdParent company said if you are going to contact a website, don’t email them. Instead, contact them in writing.

Some groups also offer Internet monitoring services. The cost can be $200 or more depending on what needs to be done or if an attorney has to step in.

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