July 19, 2024

How to Delete Your Online Presence

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Whenever you do something online – leave a comment in a forum, buy something, or perform a bank transfer – you leave a digital trace. For most internet users, this is an inevitable consequence, and convenience is worth the risk. There are some, however, who are concerned about privacy issues and security. People have fallen victim to spyware, spoofing, and other cybercrimes. The thought that they are leaving a digital footprint is something they cannot bear.

If this applies to you, you may want to know how to delete your internet presence. There are a few steps you can take. If you persist and remain dedicated, you can clean up your footprint. Here are some ways to delete the information available about you online.  

Find and delete old accounts

Most people have old email accounts they’ve forgotten about. They can give hackers access to a lot of sensitive personal data. If cybercriminals get their hands on your email, they can reset passwords on third-party apps you don’t remember downloading. They will then have access to those services and be able to obtain additional information. They might use it to launch phishing campaigns for even more information later.  

Log out of all sites and apps after you’re finished using them

You’re probably logged in to multiple sites that you’ve forgotten about. That’s only natural, as you might have used them just once, many years ago. However, the privacy risk remains.  

Google the username you use most often, or more than one if needed. Search your inbox for “welcome to” messages. Websites ask you to confirm your email and searching “Welcome to” in your email is a good way to get rid of them.

Opt out of people search websites

People search sites are data brokers that let you find people online, among other things. They sell people’s data, which they get when someone makes an online purchase, provides their email for a service, or scans a QR code.

Data brokers have opt-out options, so you can have your information removed if you’re worried about your online privacy.

The bad news is that you might have to do this for each site separately. Google your name to check which sites have your data.  

Delete your history on Google and Apple

Google, Apple, and other major online service providers make it possible to delete one’s history, any linked emails, and any private data stored. Click on your username and go to your account. In the settings, delete all the data and information you can find.

You can also do this on social networks. Some of them let users download their data for their own records.

Deny and delete cookies

To delete your online presence, you must get rid of all cookies and cached information. Delete your full browsing history from every web browser you use. You do this by choosing “Clear browsing data” in Chrome, for example. This basically resets the browser. Adjust your cookie settings in the browser to tell websites not to track you.

Stop giving apps your data

When you download and use apps on your computer or mobile device, they get access to your personal data, including your location and browsing habits. Then, they sell that information to other parties. To avoid this, stop downloading apps, delete your account on ones you have but aren’t using, and remove them from your phone or computer.

Delete your social media

Now, getting to the hard stuff. If you have an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc., you must log in and request to delete your account. It’s particularly difficult on Instagram. Apparently, you can’t delete your account on its Android and website versions.

This might not be the end of it. Social media claim to delete your information when you delete your account, but it might not be true. Still, the best thing a user can do is delete the accounts if they want to get rid of their online presence.

Invest in antivirus software

Every time you click on a link or download something, you become vulnerable to malware, viruses, and hackers. Purchase quality antivirus software and run it regularly or whenever prompted.

Can you really live offline?

If you want to disappear from the internet, give up online banking, online shopping, and digital payments. It will require major sacrifices in the way of convenience.

Should you? There is no way to reverse many of these tactics. If you find yourself job-hunting or applying to study at a college, you should know recruiters and college admissions offices review candidates using social media. The absence of a profile might work against you. They might assume you’re using social media under a fake name or username or aren’t tech-savvy. You would benefit from an online presence presenting you in the best light.

Article from Yvette Warren

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