The internet has been a great thing for civilization in some respects. For instance, it’s made our lives considerably more convenient. Never before have we been able to converse with each other so easily and share so much information.
But it also has a dark side: it remembers everything. And that makes it easy for people to find out more about you.
There are also real security risks. What’s the deal with Google Photos and privacy? Initially, Google set up the platform so that it shared photos you took with your friends automatically, without your consent. From today’s perspective, that seems like madness. But it happened.
So how do you delete yourself from the internet? Is it even possible?
Step 1: Delete Your Social Media Accounts
How do companies know so much about you? Primarily, it comes from your social media activity. Without realizing it, you often put out vast quantities of information about who you are, who your friends are, what you like, what you dislike, and your hobbies.
Fortunately, thanks to new data protection laws, you can finally delete your profiles for good.
Facebook allows you to either temporarily deactivate or permanently delete your profile. You can choose the option you want in settings.
Twitter allows you to do something similar. Just go to the accounts settings page.
LinkedIn also lets you delete all your information via the “closing your LinkedIn account” option.
Step 2: Remove Results From Search
The next step is to do a quick Google search to see if your name or personal information remains on any pages. For instance, you might have a profile picture with an old employer. Or you might have your name quoted under an article.
The best approach here is to reach out to the website owner and ask them to remove your name and any other details. The vast majority of sites will oblige immediately, especially old employers.
If you don’t have the email address of the site, just use the contact page to get in touch with them. Unless it’s a news media site, they should remove you quickly.
Step 3: Get Rid Of Public Records
Even after you remove results from search engines, people may still be able to trace you via various public records on the internet.
There are all sorts of these and they cover a vast swath of search criteria. There are public records for:
- Landlords to check up on tenants
- Family members to trace family trees
- Employers to screen prospective candidates
- Police to check your criminal record
In many cases, you can ask these sites to expunge your information and they will comply. Many times, they will automatically enroll you. But you can opt-out. When you do, you should no longer be searchable.
Step 4: Remove User Names Attached To Remaining Accounts
Experienced internet sleuths may still be able to trace you, even if you do all of the above by using email information. So be sure to anonymize your account by making your email address something other than your name.