The start of a new year is an excellent time to get your internet privacy ducks in a row and effectively 'delete' yourself from the web. Your personal information is likely available to the public if you're reading this. 'Public' refers to everyone and everywhere. How does deleting yourself from the internet prevent companies from accessing your information? It doesn't.
There is no way to altogether remove yourself from the internet, but there are ways to minimize your digital footprint, which would reduce the chances of your sensitive data being found. However, you should be aware that removing your information from the internet, as I've outlined below, may adversely affect your ability to communicate with potential employers.
Here are some ways to make your digital self disappear:
1. Delete or deactivate your shopping, social media and web service accounts
Go to your account settings and find the option to deactivate, remove or close these accounts. The settings may be located under Privacy or Security or something similar, depending on the account.
Another way is to try searching online for 'How to delete,' followed by the name of the account you want to delete. There should be instructions on how to delete that particular account. If there's still an account, you can't delete, change the info in it to something else. Make it fake or random.
2. Remove yourself from data collection sites
You will find companies out there that collect information about you. Basically, they collect data about everything you do online, then sell it to interested parties, usually so they can advertise and sell stuff to you more specifically.
Now you can search for yourself on these sites and then deal with each site individually to remove your name. Oftentimes, opting out from each site involves sending faxes and filling out physical paperwork.
Anyhow, it is easier to use a service such as DeleteMe. The service will jump through all those monotonous hoops on your behalf for $129 per year. The system will even check back every few months to make sure your name hasn't been added to these sites again.
3. Remove your info directly from websites:
It's up to the webmaster of the site you want to remove an old forum post or an old embarrassing blog you wrote back in the day. However, private websites are not obligated to remove your posts. When contacting these sites, be polite and clearly state why you want the post removed. Hopefully, the post will be removed.
4. Remove personal info from websites:
Someone has posted sensitive information of yours, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, and the webmaster won't remove it; you can file a legal removal request with Google to get it removed. The removal process may take some time, and there is no guarantee it will be successful, but it's also your best option if you are in this vulnerable situation.
5. Remove outdated search results:
Imagine you want to get rid of a webpage with information about you on it -- like your former employer's staff page, months after you changed jobs. Contact them to get the information updated. When you Google your name, the page still appears in your search results, even though your name is nowhere to be found when you click the link. It usually means the old version of the page is cached on Google's servers.
Submit the URL to Google in hopes it'll update its servers, deleting the cached search result, so you're no longer associated with the page. There's no guarantee Google will remove the cached info for reasons, but it's worth a try to exorcize as much of your online presence as possible from the internet.
6. finally, the last step you'll want to take is to remove your email accounts
You will have to follow different steps depending on the type of email account you have. To delete or close your account, you will need to sign in to your account. Upon deactivation, some accounts will stay open for a specific period of time. To complete the previous steps, you need an email address, so make sure this is your last one