We've all heard the horror stories. A simple Google search of your name can bring up decades-old blog posts, embarrassing photos, and private addresses. It's no wonder that more and more people are looking to remove their personal information from the internet. But how do you do it? And is it even possible? In this post, we'll walk you through the process of removing your personal information from the internet.
What to do when you want to delete your digital footprint
Deleting your digital footprint goes beyond just deleting your social media accounts. In fact, that's only the beginning. Here are some other things you can do to delete your personal information from the internet:
- Remove your name and contact information from public directories online
- Remove old blog posts, articles and other content that contains personal information
- Use a pseudonym online instead of your real name
- Lock down your privacy settings on social media platforms
- Use a secure browser extension to protect your personal information
Delete your social media accounts
Deleting your social media accounts is the first step in removing your personal information from the internet. The most common, and perhaps the most vulnerable, are social media accounts. Simply deactivating an account is not enough, as your data may still be stored on the company's servers. If you don't want to leave Facebook but are concerned someone may have accessed your information via that site, you can request your data. By making a personal data request to Facebook, you can see all of the information the company has on you. You can also request that Facebook deletes any of this data.
Use a Do Not Track feature
To keep your personal data from being scooped up by advertisers and other third-party trackers, you can use a Do Not Track feature. This is a browser setting that tells websites and trackers not to store or record your online activity. There are several ways to enable this setting. You can use anti-virus guard, privacy software or AVG security software to prevent browsers and sites from tracking your online activity. Doing this ensures that websites and browsers do not record or store any of your personal information. Another way is to use a private browsing window or incognito mode when browsing the internet. This will also stop websites from tracking your activity.
Request sites to delete your information
A quick way to get an overview of what personal information is online is to use people search services. These websites are often used for looking up lost contacts, old colleagues or prospective employees, but they can also show you what information about you exists online and where you can find it. Once you have this information, you can contact the website holding your personal information and ask them to delete it. Keep in mind that different sites might have different procedures for deleting your information, so make sure to read their terms and conditions carefully.
Use Google’s removal request tool
Google has a removal request tool that makes it easy for you to submit a request for the removal of your personal information from its search engine results pages. The form is short and easy to fill out, and Google tries to handle each request as quickly as possible. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t guarantee a 100% removal of your personal data from Google’s search results. In some cases, your data may still appear in Google results if it’s been published elsewhere on the internet.
Close or delete any blogs or personal sites
The first step in removing your information from the internet is to close or delete any blogs or personal sites that you have created. This is a fairly easy process- most blog providers will have an option to delete your account permanently. If you are a member of any forums or groups on larger sites, be sure to leave and delete your account. Remember, the more information you have out there, the easier it is for someone to track you down. Details such as your home address or even sensitive personal information about you can be gleaned from images on the internet if you're not careful. So, if you do run a personal site or blog, be mindful of what information you are posting and that you're not revealing anything too sensitive.
Remove all unnecessary apps from your phone or tablet
There are a lot of mobile apps on your phone or tablet that collect personal data. While this is usually limited to your name and email address, this information being in the hands of fraudsters and other bad faith actors could still be harmful. These apps also collect geographical data about you, such as tracking where you are or where you’re traveling. They can also see your spending habits, which could be harmful if this information falls into the wrong hands. To reduce the risk of your personal data being hacked, it’s important to remove unnecessary apps from your phone or tablet. This will minimize the amount of information that is vulnerable to hacking.
Clean up your computer data
It's not just social media platforms that store your personal data, but your computer itself holds a wealth of information about you. Your browsing history, cookies and cache are all easy to access and can be easily deleted. Start by clearing your browsing history in your browser settings. This will remove the list of websites you've recently visited. Next, delete all of your cookies by going to the "Privacy" section of your browser settings and selecting "Delete All Cookies." You can also manually delete cookies one-by-one by clicking on the website's name in your browsing history and selecting "Delete." Finally, empty your cache by going to the same section in your browser settings and selecting "Clear Cache." You can also select which types of data you'd like to clear (images, videos, etc). Taking these small steps will help protect your privacy and keep your computer running smoothly.
How to stay safe online after deleting your personal information
Now that you've deleted your personal information from the internet, it's important to be vigilant about ensuring your safety online. Remember, when you remove your data, it's still out there—you just can't be found through your old accounts and profiles. So take the time to read the privacy policies of sites carefully before signing up, only open online accounts when necessary and don’t share any personal information on social media. You also don't want to end up re-releasing all your sensitive data online. To avoid this, be sure to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication where possible, and be careful about what you post and share online. With a little caution and vigilance, you can stay safe and keep your personal information private even after deleting it from the internet.
Deleting your personal information from the internet can seem like a daunting task, but it's not impossible. There are many ways to remove your information from the web, and most of them are fairly easy to do. It's important to remember that the more of your personal data that's online, the more vulnerable you are to identity theft and other cyber crimes. So take some time to clean up your digital footprint and protect yourself from harm.
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