In many ways, the internet has been good for the world. However, one problem is the overexposure of personal information. When anyone can readily find your official name, physical address and personal email address online, there is a big problem. Risks include identity theft, stalkers and spamming.
Unfortunately, removing personal information from the internet is not as quick as removing your phone number from your Facebook profile. It requires time, effort and patience. Follow these steps to banish your personal information from the worldwide Web.
1. Delete Your Online Accounts
The average internet user has several online accounts. The most common, and arguably the most vulnerable, are social media accounts. Each account you open means more personal information available online. Deleting these accounts can effectively remove a big chunk of the information.
Please note that deactivating an account is not the same as deleting it. With some accounts, you can request permanent deletion. For others, you can delete the information by linking the account to a new email address and then deleting that email address.
Also, it may not be possible to delete all information, especially once third parties gain possession of it. For example, apps on Facebook often collect personal data.
Other accounts you can delete include PayPal, YouTube, Craigslist and eBay.
2. Use a Do Not Track Feature
With anti-virus guard or AVG security software, you can turn off browsers from tracking your online activity. This ensures that websites and browsers do not record and store any of your personal information.
3. Request Sites to Delete Your Information
One way of checking whether any personal information exists online is by using people search websites. Such websites show you what information about you exists online and where you can find it. You can then request a specific site holding your personal information to delete it.
4. Use Google s Removal Request Tool
Since people mostly search for information using search engines, you can ask Google to exclude any results containing your personal information. A Google removal request form is easy and quick to fill out.
5. Close or Delete Any Personal Sites
It is quite easy to delete all information from a blog and ask your provider to delete your account permanently. Other personal sites you may need to close include forums and groups.
6. Clear Your Computer
You would be surprised at how much personal information your browser holds. Start by clearing your browsing history before moving on to deleting cookies and any other information that may be present in your browser.
When using the internet after removing personal information, take specific care to protect your identity and keep your information safe. Carefully read the privacy policies of sites before signing on, only open necessary accounts and don t share any personal information on social media, forums or any other insecure platform.