Disappearing in the digital age
Frank Ahearn and Eileen Cohorn make people disappear.
For years they’ve been paid to help people with money problems or unwanted celebrity status do just that. Now they’ve written a book called How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish Without a Trace.
Based on their careers as privacy experts, the book isn’t about changing your identity – neither Ahearn nor Cohorn condone or suggest doing that. It’s about covering your tracks and learning how to hide without being found.
Ahearn says he wrote the book at the behest of his friend and business partner Cohorn.
She wanted him to write something to fend off the “tremendous (number) of crazies and criminals” contacting him for his services who were making him seriously consider shutting down his business.
“It’s the fantasy factor,” says Ahearn about why people want to disappear.
People are inspired by the idea of leaving their old lives behind, he says. And they’re egged on by the larger-than-life tales about the likes of Elvis Presley and Kurt Cobain, whose own ends stirred up theories of faked deaths and secret hideaways.
Romantic lore aside, Ahearn says vanishing isn’t easy in the age of technology.
“Disappearing is infinite because it’s dealing with information, but people want an instantaneous fix,” he says.
The book is more of the latter, an instantaneous fix for those with privacy concerns.
“It’s not a how-to book,” says Ahearn.
Instead he wants people to take a single message from his book.
“Redefine what you believe privacy is,” he says. “These days it’s dictated to us.”