Wondering how to delete yourself from the internet? You’re not alone. But it is quite difficult to reduce the amount of personal information that’s floating around the web.
Think about it: How much personal information have you shared online, much of which you’ve forgotten?
You probably have unknowingly shared sensitive information on your social media, such as family members’ names and address information. Or perhaps you went out of town and shared that information publicly. Someone could be out there, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce on that data!
Deleting sensitive information from the internet lowers the chances of the wrong person using it for malicious purposes. To streamline your data privacy, follow these tips on how to delete your personal information from the internet. You’ll reduce your risk of hacking – and get some privacy back!
Types of sensitive information
Think about how often you post on social media. Now think aboutall of those online accounts that you’ve set up and maybe forgotten about.
There’s all kinds of sensitive information about you floating around. This includes:
- Full name, telephone number, education history, and physical address
- Bank account number and login details
- Health records
- Social Security Number
- Health insurance data
- Identification details
They can then use that information to wreak havoc. They could enter into contracts with a person’s name, use your social security number to file a fake tax return, obtain property illegally, or even steal money from your bank account. The worst of the worst may even stalk you in your home and harass you at work. It can get nasty! This is why you want to delete yourself from the internet: it reduces your data footprint and gives hackers fewer entry points into your life.
How to delete yourself from the internet in 10 steps
It’s really difficult to fully delete yourself from the Internet. And it may be next to impossible, since most of us to enjoy many benefits from life online.
The best you can do is take a methodical approach to delete yourself from the internet and minimize your data footprint. Be patient and prioritize the steps that have the highest impact for your own personal data privacy goals.
1. Start with Google
At the top of the information funnel sits the biggest gorilla of them all: Google. The global search engine is the access point to most people’s personal information.
Although it compiles this information to customize your content, it could land in the hands of fraudsters. And yes, it is possible to remove your name from Google searches.
Do this: Visit Google’s activity controls to manage ad personalization, YouTube history, and app and web activity. Since Google collects data continuously, we recommend turning on “Auto Delete” to delete your data at a regular interval.
2. Revisit your browser’s privacy controls
Hackers can also insert themselves between a website and your computer, Inserting a malicious cookie that access is your personal information and put you at risk for further trouble.
Brave and DuckDuckGo are browsers developed with privacy in mind. These browsers block third-party cookies that track internet activity. Whatever browser one uses, it is possible to apply privacy settings and add browser extensions for enhanced security.
Do this: Go into each browser’s settings and turn off cookies. We recommend using DuckDuckGo, which also has a setting to prevent browser fingerprinting, which is when your unique browser is tracked across the internet.
3. Clean up your online accounts
Goff. This one may be hard. If you really want to delete yourself from the Internet, going to have to delete your social media accounts. And that includes somebody may have forgotten about, like that embarrassing MySpace page from years ago.
Or, if you just want to prevent randos from seeing your content, you can update your settings to restrict public access. You may also then want to consider deleting old posts that don’t fit with your current life.
You’ll also want to delete any online accounts that you’re not using, such as online shops that still have your data even though you only bought something once. That stale data puts you at risk of identity theft! Deleting these accounts is not always easy. Many shady websites make the process difficult or pretend to deactivate or delete your account. It’s worth it though!
Do this: Shameless plug. Privacy Bee can help you manage your data deletion requests. It doesn’t have to be complicated; we make it simple!
4. Opt out of data brokers
Data brokers are tasked with collecting information from people and compiling them online. Examples of these companies include PeopleFinder and Spokeo. They collect information from people’s online activities and sell it to interested people mostly for advertisement purposes. However, some parties may acquire people’s information for illegal purposes.
It’s going to take some legwork but you can go and opt out of each data broker and people search site. Start by doing a search for your name on different search engines and then following the lead until you find the right opt-out flow. It takes time but it’s the most impactful step to delete yourself from the internet!
5. Delete your personal information from blogs
When was the last time you checked that old Tumblr page? We often share intimate details (especially in our younger years) that end up living forever.
Take some time to review old content to see if it’s worth making a removal request. You might want to preserve some things, but you’ll find that other things are less important to save — especially when trying to delete yourself from the internet.
Do this: Search your name on Google and other search engines…and click through beyond the first page. You may find some ancient content that needs deleting! If so, ask Google to get rid of outdated content. It may work in some instances.
7. Get rid of unused apps
When installing new apps, most people don’t care to read the Terms and Conditions. They just click the ‘I Agree’ button without much thought. The truth is many mobile apps collect a lot of personal information that could later be hacked!
Every so often, you should delete unused apps from your phone. And whenever you download a new app, carefully read the Terms so you know what you’re agreeing to.
Especially risky are shady loan apps that prompt you for personal information and, rather than give you a loan, they use this information to access your bank or other private records.
Do this: Perform an app clean up whenever you update your smartphone software. This gives you a frequent reminder to delete any apps that are lingering on your phone – and potentially tracking your activity!
8. Clean up your browser (and file sharing sites)
You should only keep the bare minimum of sensitive information on your computer. That minimizes the damage if it ends up in strong hands.
Remember that your browser contains tons of data on their browsing history, as well as cached files, and passwords. Imagine what a hacker could do with this information! Do not wait until it is too late. One should ensure they regularly clear their browser history.
You may also want to consider connections to file sharing sites, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, as well as any cloud photo apps. If your computer (or phone) is stolen, there could be a lot of data that ends up being leaked…and not just your personal photos: tax returns, birth certificates and other documents are rich with useful info for hackers!
Privacy protection is a process
Identity theft is like one of those things that you don’t think about until it happens to you. Don’t let it happen to you! Protect yourself by deleting unnecessary data from the internet. A methodical approach works well – just start working down the list, step by step!
Once you’ve minimized your data footprint, periodically check to see if you were part of a data breach. If you see signs of identity theft, follow these steps to recover from identity theft. It’s a continuous process that’s annoying but important!