Want To Disappear Online?
Have you ever wanted to disappear but then thought, wait a second, there’s all my work online, my blog articles, my multiple social media accounts, and oh yeah, my Gmail. It’s pretty hard to disappear from the internet thanks to the ever-evolving digital footprint we leave each and every day.
Think about what it would be like for today’s kids. They’ve essentially grown up online and don’t know that a world once excited without the internet. Trust me on this, I have two young boys, 11 and 5, and OMG, if I has a dime for each of the times I’ve heard “just download it dad” (when we have no WiFi or when they ‘want’ an expensive paid app), I’d be retired writing this on an island.
“Social media has made everyone’s life an open book (one that’s open a bit too far in some cases). As more and more companies and individuals come to rely on the Internet as a primary source of information about others, so too does the possibility of compromising info reaching the wrong person grow.
For folks concerned about their personal information potentially costing them jobs and relationships, or for those dealing with the harsh realities of social media fallout, the decision to “pull the plug” is an increasingly attractive one. And while it might seem impossible to keep your private life private and your Internet presence to a minimum in a 24/7 connected world, the truth is you can disappear online with a little effort and dedication.” (via WhoIsHostingThis.com)
How Can I Disappear From The Internet?
Careful what you wish for. It may be much harder than you think.
Step 1: Get Off Social Media – Delete Primary Accounts
First things first right? Start by deleting all your social media profiles starting with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. If you were on LinkedIn, you’ll want to delete that too. Check your Pinterest and Instagram as well.
Pro Tip: use JustDelete.Me to get rid of all your social media accounts with one tool.
Step 2: Google Yourself
As fun as that sounds, You should just search for yourself. Just incase you have an account that your forgot about (MySpace anyone?) or some inactive blog you may have had.
Pro Tip: If you forget your username or password, almost every site has the option to receive one or the other if not both. Follow the steps and you’ll have your login credentials back in no time.
Step 3: Falsify Undeletable Accounts
HA! I love this one. For any account that you’re unable to delete, just post some fake information. You can use that name you’ve always loved and wished your parents named you!
Step 4: Unsubscribe From Mailing Lists
Get into your inbox, junk, or spam folders and collect all email newsletters and/promotions you signed up for. Each one should have an ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the newsletter. Click that and follow the steps and you’re free!
Step 5: Delete Search Engine Results
Good luck with this one. You can request search engines to delete results that return info about you. Yes really.
Pro Tip: Google has a URL removal tool to help you with this process.
Step 6: Contact Webmasters
Unfortunately, you may find some information about you on websites that you have no control over. It is what it is. In this case, you’d need to contact the webmaster to discuss removal.
Pro Tip: Be ready! Some web masters may argue that public information is information that should remain public.
Step 7: Consider Data Clearinghouses
We all know there are companies who track your behaviour online and that that data to other companies. What you may not know is that there are also companies that are considered data clearinghouses. Intelius, Spokeo, and PeopleFinders are a few examples.
Step 8: Check In With Your Phone Company
No, this doesn’t mean literally “check in” on Foursquare or Facebook. It means that some phone companies have your information listed online. You’ll need to ask them to make you unlisted. By the way, if you did have a Foursquare or Yelp account, you may want to go back and repeat Step 1.
Step 9: Delete Your Email
It’s vital to leave this step till last. You may need your email to receive information regarding your passwords and user names.
Some Final Tips To Disappear Online
If you though that completing those 9 steps to disappearing from the internet was all you had to do, I’m sorry to say that that was just the start. There are a few more things you should know.
1. Seek legal council when it comes to any info that is false or defamatory to your character.
2. Check in with clearinghouses and background-check websites yearly to catch any new information that has been collected about you.
3. For future searches and internet use, use DuckDuckGo, an anonymous search engine that does not collect or share search history.
The Wrap and the Infographic
Sounds to me like disappearing from the internet can be a real pain in the ass. Not to mention that you may not even catch everything posted about you online in the first place.
This may be a little late for some, but always remember that there is, and never was, any privacy online.
Be careful what you share online.
Most importantly, teach your children responsibility and safety on the internet.
Below is the infographic from WhoIsHostingThis, which visually describes the 9 steps posted above.