If you have ever googled your name, chances are that you came across your personal information that you don’t even remember sharing. And you must know that the information on the Internet is public. When we say public, we really do mean public.
You must be aware that Facebook faced severe backlash almost the entire last year after it was revealed that personal information of more than 50 million users of Facebook was harnessed by UK-based Cambridge Analytica, to target political ads during the 2016 presidential election for the Trump campaign. The situation further worsened when Facebook announced that one of the features meant for profiles allowed hackers to steal users’ data. Later, the company was reported to have shared users’ profile information with third-party companies such as Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, and Amazon among others.
These revelations caused Facebook to suspend many features, as well as severe ties with Cambridge Analytica, from its network but the damage was already done. Your personal information was already used and you could do nothing to stop other companies who could use your information in a similar way.
And this is why many are looking to delete their personal information from the internet and in some cases – themselves. While you cannot completely delete yourself, but what you can do is minimise your digital footprint and prevent ‘these’ companies from hoarding your data with or without permission.
So, here’s how you can delete yourself from the internet –
Delete your social network, shopping or other web service accounts
Think about which social networks you have profiles on.
Make a list of all your social media profiles – Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn Instagram et al. Additionally, take a look at all the shopping sites you have registered on? The common ones might include information stored on websites such as Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, Jabong, Koovs, among others.
To delete these, access your account settings from Security or Privacy and look for deactivating, removing or closing your account.
You can also search online for “How to delete,” by adding the specific name of the account you want to delete. If you are still unable to delete an account, make sure to change your information to something random or fake.
Identify and delete yourself from all data collection sites
Spokeo, Whitepages.com, PeopleFinder are some of the many companies that collect data from your every move online and later sell that information to an interested party. This is done specifically to improve advertisement for you and sell you more things.
Search your name on these sites and then individually deal with each of the websites to get your name and your information deleted. However, the procedure to do so could differ for each site.
It may also involve sending faxes and in some cases paperwork by hand.
If you want to avoid this – you can go to DeleteMe feature available at Abine.com which will help you complete all procedures and remove you from these data broker sites.
Delete your data directly from websites
If you wish to remove an old post on a forum or an old blog, get in touch with the webmaster of that site individually. Look at the About us or Contacts section of the specific site or go to www.whois.com and make a search for the domain name. This helps you find information on the person you wish to contact for the same.
Remove personal info from websites
If you have posted your sensitive information online and the webmaster of the site refuses to remove it, then you should send a legal request to Google on https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905 to get the sensitive information removed.
Remove outdated search results
If you are still being shown to be working at a former employer’s staff page, even after you’ve changed jobs then you could get in touch with them to update their page.
And when they have done that and still your name shows up in the search results chances are that the old version of the page is still cached on Google servers.
In this case, send the URL to Google, so that it might update its servers and delete the cached search results while it’s no guarantee that Google will update its servers it’s a step to removing your data online.
Deleting your email accounts
Deleting e-mail accounts may vary depending upon what account you are using. Log in into your email account and look for the option to remove or completely close the account. Some accounts will only get deactivated and can’t be deleted permanently so that you could reactivate them if you wish. You will still have to keep one last e-mail email address to complete the process.
One must note that this process takes time and may take days or even months.