How To Remove Your Information From the Internet: An Easy Guide
In a world where piled-up data can be organized, analyzed, and used against you, it’s useful to know how to remove your information from the internet.
Dec 23,2022 December 23,2022
In the age of social media and constant connectivity, it can feel like you wouldn’t be able to escape the internet even if you wanted to. But what if you suddenly decided that you wanted to disappear off the grid entirely? Or if you began to realize there’s more information about you online than you care to share? Here’s how to remove your information from the internet.
Remove Your Name From Data Collection Sites
Companies called data brokers collect your information and sell it to third parties to improve their ads and make them more personalized. Big companies need the information you might think is unimportant because it helps them figure out what you do and what you like. If you’ve noticed that targeted ads are getting more personal, data collection is why.
Removing your personal details from these sites can be time-consuming as they need to be removed manually. Sometimes, it even includes sending physical documents to finish the job.
However, this can be done faster if you choose one of the software solutions that can help you remove your personal information. One such provider is Incogni, which will help you regain your privacy and keep your data away from those who might abuse it.
Delete Your Shopping and Social Media Accounts
People who look you up will most likely first click on your social media profiles. If your accounts are set as public, people can learn a lot about you from browsing through your Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
And you are not alone. With almost half of the world’s population estimated to be using social media, the amount of data on these platforms is virtually immeasurable.
If you want to remove (or significantly reduce) your digital footprint, you need to delete information from not only the social media sites you use now but also any platforms you may have used in the past. Think Tumblr or MySpace. The best way to do this is to delete or deactivate each account manually. This will help you remove the data that can be revealing or even compromising.
You can do this by going to an individual network’s settings and choosing whether you want to temporarily deactivate your account or completely disappear from that network. Keep in mind that some social media platforms intentionally make it harder to find the option for account deletion, so you may have to google your way out of it.
Check Your Browser’s Privacy Controls
Cookies are used to personalize your online experience by providing more relevant ads to the user. Once you agree to cookies on a website, your online activity can be shared with third parties to help them create ads tailored for you.
What you can do is simply go to the browser’s settings and turn off cookies. Additionally, you can start using one of the browsers that block third-party cookies. This way, you can enhance your privacy online by a great deal.
Remove Outdated Search Results
Sometimes, even when your name is removed from a particular page on the internet, when you look yourself up, that specific page pops up in Google search results. This happens because the older version is cached on Google’s server and needs to be updated.
The good news is that these can be fixed by sending the URL to search engines like Google and waiting to see if the servers are updated. If so, the cached search result will be deleted, and you will no longer be linked to that page. However, no one can guarantee that Google will comply and remove this cached information.
Request To Have Your Information Removed
The internet can be unpredictable, and sometimes a single post can harm your reputation or privacy. For example, someone could post your Social Security number or financial information, leaving you in a potentially dangerous situation.
In most cases, the webmaster will simply agree to remove this post, but they’re under no obligation to do it, so you may have to take additional steps. One option is to file a removal request and ask Google to remove it.
Even though there’s no 100% guarantee that Google will follow through, it will most likely remove any important information.
Delete Unused Apps
Once we no longer use an app, we simply delete it so we can have some storage back. However, the space the apps take up should not be our only concern.
Most mobile apps make you agree to their Terms and Conditions stipulating data collection, which is not even the worst thing that could happen. Many apps get hacked, with your information potentially exposed to bad actors.
Therefore, a good strategy would involve regularly checking your phone, and when you realize you have unnecessary apps, you should delete them. It goes without saying that you should always read the Terms and Conditions before installing an app.
Delete Your Email Accounts
Deleting your online accounts, such as emails or personal blogs you no longer use, should be your final step. You can easily delete email addresses and may even be able to reactivate some of them after a certain period. However, if you don’t log into a deactivated email account for a specified period, it will be deleted.
As an email address is necessary for the 21st century, even if you want to delete the email address that states your first and last name, you’ll likely need another email address very soon.
The Bottom Line
All in all, if you want to protect your privacy online and leave as little information as possible for others to see, there are a few steps to help you do just that. From regularly checking what information is being shared about you to deleting old accounts you no longer use, these simple steps go a long way to protect you against potential identity theft and other data breaches.
However, completely disappearing from the all-seeing eye of the internet is impossible. There will always be information about you stored somewhere, and sadly, there is nothing we can do to completely erase it. Still, you can remove information from the internet that can affect your reputation or that you simply don’t want to be public.
You can take steps to keep your privacy fairly protected while using social media, such as having a private profile and sharing information only with trusted people. Still, only deleting your social media accounts will really minimize the data third parties can use. Even the information you find irrelevant can be used for advertising.
When a sensitive piece of information is shared about you, you must act as soon as possible. We’re talking about information such as your Social Security number. If this happens, you can send a legal request to Google and ask to have such a post removed.
Your Internet Protocol (IP) address and your computer’s ID are the two main resources from which websites collect your information. They can be traced back to you as they are unique to your device. If you’re wondering how to remove your information from the internet, the answer is not straightforward, as you will have to take most of these steps manually.
Businesses that gather, analyze, and process information from many sources are known as data brokers. They can license a company’s data directly or use another organization's data to provide improved results.
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