The Internet has gone, in less than two decades, from an amusing novelty to being tightly integrated with our very existence. Not a day goes by that we don't see the effects on the Internet on our society and our world. And perhaps it's given you cause for concern.
There's reason for that. The Internet can violate your privacy, make you simple to find even when you'd rather be left alone, and major websites are run by corporations that prioritize their bottom line over your privacy. If you've had enough, here's how to remove yourself from the Internet.
What Is Some Of The Data You Can Find On A Person Online?
That depends on the person, but as a general rule, almost everyone on the Internet can have their social media feeds, public records, and public search results easily accessed. It also might surprise you what's out there in the first place; as newspapers digitize their archives and "data mining" companies build larger and larger databases full of information, more and more of your past will be posted online and available for public consumption.
With All That Data, Is Erasing Yourself From The Internet Even Possible?
It may seem that more and more it's impossible to stay out of the all-seeing eye of the Internet. But the truth is that most of what the Internet knows about you is information you give to it, and that gives you power.
Take, for example, social networks. Many of them will ask you what movies you like, what bands you listen to, what your favorite TV shows are, ostensibly to pair you up with other people who have similar interests. But they're also using that data to profile you and sell that information to marketing departments, individuals, even governments.
But they can't do that with an absence of data, so if you don't provide them with it, they have nothing to offer about you. This is the key principle to deleting yourself from the Internet; you are the one providing the data, and all you have to do is know what you're getting into. Here's how to remove yourself completely from the Internet, or at least reduce your presence.
Start With What's Out There
Fortunately, it's simple to find what's out there about you on the Internet; just search for yourself on popular search engines such as Google. You may have to be a bit more specific if you have a common name, but that should give you a good overview of what's out there about you. Then, you can start deleting the content you control and asking to remove the content posted by others.
Delete Your Social Networking Accounts
By far the most detailed records and the largest collection of data about you comes from your social media account. Social media can track everything from your current employment to your political leanings to your taste in entertainment, based entirely on the content you post and the people you're friends with. If you've ever seen a Facebook ad that seems to know more about you than a marketing department really should, that's because they do.
So, if you want to erase yourself from the Internet, start with your social media accounts. Be careful, however, as social media accounts really don't want you to delete them. For example, if you choose to delete your Facebook, and log into it, at all, anywhere, for any reason, within thirty days, your account will be restored.
Also, remember that even if you delete your profile, they may still keep that information and include it in databases. But, on the other hand, at least you're not providing any more information to them.
Alternately, you can choose to make your social media accounts "professional," which will keep the account, but erase any personal data from and turn your social media presence into more of an online business card. A good reputation service may be able to help you more thoroughly revise your social media accounts.
Delete Yourself From Public Records Sites On The Internet
The next step is one that many find extremely frustrating; deleting themselves from "people search engines" such as Spokeo and Pipl. Sites such as these are essentially clearinghouses of public records. Provided a record hasn't been sealed or otherwise removed from public access, these sites collect the information, upload it to their servers, and then sell it to anyone who wants it.
In theory, you can simply be asked to be removed from each one, and that resolves the issue. In reality, these sites try to make removing yourself from their databases as difficult as humanly possible, and will often re-add the records you've requested they delete when a new public record comes along. A reputation management company can automate this process, stopping attempts to return your public records to the Internet in their tracks.
Delete Your Email, Delete Yourself From The Internet
The next step will be to delete your email address. True, this may seem a little drastic, but your email address is often closely tied to much of your identifying information; if you delete your email and switch to a new, more secure email address, you'll have far less information collected about you and will remain more anonymous online than you otherwise would. If you want to leave the email address open for professional reasons, consider creating a "private" personal email instead which will allow you to do business online as necessary.
Be Vigilant To Keep Your Privacy
It's unlikely you'll be able to avoid the Internet entirely, and really, the seemingly innocuous forms you have to fill out for services online can be as much a source of information as your social networks. So be careful about what you do online, and think carefully before you give your information to any company; once you've taken the trouble to delete yourself from the Internet, you should make an effort to ensure that sticks.
If you need help keeping your privacy and tracking what people say about you, contact ReputationDefender. We'll help you find and eliminate bad search results, clean up your social media presence, be more professional online, or even outright delete yourself from the Internet. Protect your privacy, with ReputationDefender.
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