A video explaining how customers can take advantage of companies selling their personal information has gone viral on TikTok.
User Stoic_liberty (@stoic_liberty), a software engineer and student, recently posted a clip designed at educating his viewers on how to strike back at data harvesters.
In the video, Stoic_liberty shares some tips on how to scam the scammers while sitting in front of his laptop.
“I just watched a video on how you can get paid by companies if they sell your information,” he begins. “The way you can find out if they sold your information is you can put their company name as your middle name as you sign up.”
“So like you sign up for Walmart,” he continues. “You put your first name, Walmart, last name. Anything that gets addressed to you that says Walmart as your middle name you know Walmart sold your information, and you can get money from Walmart.”
This wasn’t the only tip that Stoic_liberty intended to share.
“But, that video reminded me of the trick that I know about Gmail that I don’t think many people know. So if you have a Gmail account periods are irrelevant. If you don’t have a period you can add a period anywhere and it will be registered in like sign-up websites like Netflix as a new email address,” he explains.
“So you could just shift the period and it creates a new account for free trials and stuff. The other way that you can do this is you can add a plus and then anything you want after your email but before Gmail,” he continues.
He finishes with an example: “So, if your email is [email protected]. You could do funny bunny plus n for a netflix at gmail.com. So when you get spam email you know who sold your info.”
The video was viewed over 394,000 times and received over 52,000 likes. Users debated the validity of his tips, with some claiming that all of his advice was defunct.
“Don’t mess with the . in gmail! It is NOT true that period or no period the email acct is the same. I know bc someone has my acct with the period,” one user asserted.
“Most accounts don’t ask for your middle name anymore,” a second user added.
Stoic_liberty responded, “The OG video was talking about when you fill out the paper form at the store and whatnot.”
“There are some websites that will not recognize your email if you use a plus,” a third added.
“Get money from the data they sold? hell nah, I don’t believe that for a second haha. you ALLOW them to use use your data etc,” a user replied.
Most appreciated his advice, and shared their own methods for catching data harvesters.
“I put it at the end of my first or last name so it’s harder to scrub out,” a user advised.
“Most emails have a way for you to make aliases!! Gmail is the easiest one but Outlook for example you have to make each one manually in the settings!!” a user shared.
“Buy a junk e-mail domain. Add company name before @ on each site. Profit,” a third said.
Companies collect four types of data from their customers on a regular basis. Collected information includes IP addresses, social security numbers, shopping habits, and online engagement.
There are ways for consumers to protect their data. Browser extensions can block ads and trackers while online, while a VPN will completely hide browsing activity. Finally, you can sign up for unimportant memberships, like streaming services, using fake information.
The Daily Dot reached out to Stoic_liberty via TikTok comments for further information.