It seems to happen almost daily that a new data breach makes headlines. With every attack, more and more private information is compromised. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of just how much of their personal details are being hoarded by the companies they interact with, as well as who can access it all.
So, what if you want to reclaim your anonymity? Well, it’s likely that you won’t be able to completely erase all records of you being on the internet. There are simply too many organizations with our information. However, there are some ways that you can significantly reduce your online footprint.
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Delete Your Accounts
Think about which websites you’ve created profiles on. Social media is a good place to start. Depending on how long you’ve been on the internet, your search may extend beyond the typical Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You might still have accounts on older platforms such as MySpace, Tumblr, Reddit, and Google Plus.
From here, take a moment to think about where you’ve shopped. Perhaps you purchased something on eBay a few years ago and forgot to delete your account. Amazon is a likely suspect here, too. These sites should all have some kind of option in the profile settings related to deactivating or removing your account.
Information From Data Collection Sites
Commonly known as data brokers, there are numerous organizations that specialize in collecting information. Some of them sell what they know about you to advertisers, while others operate as people finder services. In any case, they all have a legal obligation to remove your details upon request.
Nuwber has an opt-out page where you simply paste your profile URL to remove their record of you. There are many other sites, though. If you’re willing to spend some cash, you can pay for a service to do all the legwork for you, removing your information from each broker and occasionally checking if anything has been added back.
Remove Outdated Content
Sometimes, a webpage with your information can still appear when you search your name, even after it has been deleted. For instance, a company you no longer work for might have listed your information on their staff page. When that information still appears, it’s usually because Google still has the page cached on their servers.
You can solve this problem by submitting the URL of the page to Google. In most cases, they’ll update their servers and delete the cached content, thus removing the entry from the results page.
You can contact your service providers and ask them to remove their details of you if they have them listed online, which is often the case. Think back and determine if you’ve made some posts on online forums. If so, you can usually contact the owner of the forum. The same applies to any blogs you might have made.
Unfortunately, most private websites don’t have an obligation to remove your info. If you’re struggling to get rid of information that someone has posted about you, one solution is to send a legal request to Google to have it removed. This can take some time and it won’t always work, but it’s well worth a try.
Taking the above measures can go a long way in removing your personal information from the internet, helping you feel safer and more anonymous online.