This is a fact accepted as evidence: in 2022, you can type almost anyone’s name into Google and access tons of results – whether it’s their social media accounts, websites, listings in directories, or articles. In the last 20 years, we have all, more or less knowingly, agreed to deliver a lot of personal data to the web.
The problem is that this can have dramatic consequences. Online harassment is a growing phenomenon. There is also identity theft, facilitated by this data that you have made public. Or this old Facebook image that you have not hidden well enough as you prepare to take a new job position.
Deleting your online presence is easier than you think, thanks to a series of privacy-protecting regulations. However, it is necessary to prepare in advance for the loss of access to many platforms and services.
Are you looking to completely erase your internet presence? By following these few tips, you will be able to make your presence on the network almost invisible.
- Close all the accounts in your name on social networks:
Do you use your real name on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Discord, and other platforms? Close all of these accounts. Regrettably, these platforms will no doubt keep your data for a long time, but you can demand that Google remove it from the search results. If you want to be able to continue to use social networks incognito, you can redo an account with a fake name.
As a precaution, when choosing your pseudonyms, avoid references that could confirm to someone who suspects your identity that it is indeed you. So, choose something neutral, and far from your name, and do not use the same pseudonym on several accounts.
- Ask Google to remove entries about you from its search results:
This step will require some work. But the good news is that in Europe, Google is required to remove results relevant to you upon request. To do this, the first step is to search for your name in the search engine. Then take note of the web addresses of all the results that concern you.
You can then go to Google’s page for removing content. From there, choose Google Search and fill in the required information. You can of course renew the operation with the other Google products in which you appear, in particular Google Images, Blogger, or Google Maps.
- Beware of cached pages:
In some cases, when you search for your name in Google, results with no apparent connection to you will appear. Go to the three small dots to the right of the result in question and consult the cached version. If you appear there, also ask Google to delete this result via the method explained in step 2.
- Delete as many accounts as possible, especially those on eCommerce sites:
Internet users have on average a dozen online accounts, and with these, they leak a lot of personal data. This is why it is advisable to methodically delete all the accounts in your possession. The procedure will differ depending on the service, but the operation is generally simple to perform.
Pay particular attention to eCommerce sites. If hacked, these sites will expose too much sensitive data that can be exploited by malicious people. That data includes your financial and banking details.
- Delete your email address and the traces that remain of you on forgotten blogs:
To disappear from the net, you have to delete the email address you are currently using. This account contains vast amounts of personal data about you and deleting it will prevent a hacker from finding it. Go back in your memory, and make sure to also delete all your interventions on forgotten blogs and forums.
- Ditch the smartphone and connected objects:
If you are serious in your approach, there is no other solution: you must permanently separate yourself from your smartphone and all the connected objects in your possession. A possible arrangement is to use a smartphone without Google services and on which you have restricted permissions so that your location or the data from your microphone or camera will never leak out.
- Call a professional:
If you are unable to remove all your traces on the internet, professionals can do it for you. There are services that delete your online accounts, data broker listings and other Google results.
However, if you want to remove your information from Nuwber (a popular people search service) you need to submit an opt-out request on their site and your data will be removed as soon as possible.
Does deleting yourself from the internet necessarily mean not using it anymore? Of course not, but it will now have to be used differently:
– Instead of giving your real email address, give temporary addresses like those issued by temporary email id generator tools.
– Never put any pictures of yourself on the internet again – prefer generic images or drawings.
- Changing your phone number and email address:
Changing your phone number and email address is very useful to prevent your data from being tracked. If you want to cancel your email address and replace it with another to make more restrictive use of it, you can continue consulting the previous one without any problem, even linked to another email application.
In that case, it is important to notify your trusted contacts that you use a new account for professional or personal matters. You can keep the old one to receive commercial mail.
If you do all this, there may still be your traces on the network, but the impact of these will be much less. It will also be important after this cleaning operation that your use of the internet in the future is more cautious. After all, much of your private data that circulates on the network reached it before you began to realize that control of your privacy was important.