How many times do you enter your personal information online? How many social media accounts, profile pages and blogs do you own? What about the ones you created years ago and have completely forgotten about? Well, it’s more than likely there’s a lot more personal information about you then you realise online.
So, how do you go about removing it? Here’s some tips to help you erase yourself from the internet.
1. Deactivate your social media accounts and blogs
To do this, you’ll have to log in, go to your settings and deactivate, close or delete your account from there. Aside from the familiar accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Wordpress your old accounts such as MySpace and Blogger may still exist. It may take a big of digging, but removing your old account from when you were 14 years old is probably something you should’ve done years ago.
2. Deactivate online shopping accounts
If you’ve ever bought something online, chances are you were asked to create an account and enter your personal information before purchasing. This means you’ll have to log in and delete or deactivate your account in the settings. If you’re an avid online shopper, it might take a while to find every account you’ve ever created (especially if you make one-off purchases), however a quick scroll through your email inbox and junk mail may highlight newsletters from stores that you would never have thought of.
3. Remove yourself from data collection companies
4. Remove content from other websites
Have you changed employers? Used to write blog posts or articles for someone else? Found a post about you that you want removed? If so, you’ll need to send a request the owner/webmaster of those sites to remove the content for you. Since the content is posted on their website, they can refuse your request if they see no reason to remove it.
5. Remove information from Google
On request, Google can remove sensitive information from Google search results. Generally, Google will only remove sensitive personal information (more information here). These policies apply on a case-by-case basis, therefore they may differ depending upon your circumstances. Otherwise, you will have to contact the webmaster to request removal of content (as above).
6. Remove your email accounts
Deleting your email accounts will be the last thing you’ll want to do as you will more than likely need them to deactivate your other accounts. Once again, just log in, go to the settings and close the account. You may want to set up a redirect first if you still want to receive emails to a new account, or simply send a bulk email to your existing contacts about your new email address.
Persistence is key. If you can’t remember your login information, try contacting the company directly explaining that you want to close your account. They may ask you to verify your identity to prove the account is truly yours, but they should be able to remove it entirely. If you can log in but can’t find out how to delete or remove the account, simply change your personal information to something random and completely unrelated to you.