How to Remove Personal Information from the Internet
Going under the radar is almost impossible in this day and age, but that’s exactly why we must regain control over the overwhelming amount of personal information made public. That's why now could be a good time to delete online information that is no longer relevant and may even be harmful.
Other times, we just don’t want everyone to know so much about us from a simple online search. The process of removing yourself from internet sources includes mapping the different areas where data may be stored and submitting requests to various companies. <hl>Here are five places where you might want to start:<hl>
UnGoogle it: Removing results from Google’s search engine
Like many other thing in life, our search begins with Google. To remove content from Google's search results, you should submit a Privacy Removal request using this form (based on your specific region). It’s crucial to note that Google does not control the content on the websites that appear in its results, so removing it from the search engine will not remove it from the web entirely.
Another thing to remember is that there’s a difference between the data Google displays and the data it collects. Google tracks countless daily actions and gathers a massive amount of data on each user. To remove it, you will need to submit a separate request. Fun fact: Google recently started deleting private information automatically from new accounts after 18 months.
Google will also request an explanation as to why you want to remove this information, listing several cases that are considered particularly justifiable, such as explicit content, financial, medical, or legal information, and more. According to the company, since the Right to be Forgotten was first implemented in 2014, Google received requests to delist more than 4 million web addresses.
Coming down the social ladder: Removing social media accounts
Closing your social media accounts isn’t that complicated. You can follow the steps detailed in previous articles for easily deleting Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. If you don’t want to remove your account entirely, you can also manage the public information shared with the world through the network’s privacy settings.
Again, users need to understand that even after removing their account, the data behind it may still be available. Other users may share information and images that include you without your consent or knowledge. The data collected by the company behind the social media network may also still be available unless you’ve taken measures to request that it is deleted from the company’s servers.
Out of site: Contacting website owners
Your information may appear on websites that publish information in articles, create databases relevant to you, or gather people’s information as the main activity.
Generally speaking, you can contact the site owners via the email or contact form included in the standard Contact Us page. You may also try using support emails or tracking the administrative staff using websites like LinkedIn or domain databases such as WhoIs.
When data collection websites are involved, the story is a bit different. These websites gather people’s search data and make a profit collecting and publishing personal details. The information on these websites often includes a person’s name, date of birth, contact info, and more. Hackers and criminals may use this information to infiltrate your personal assets or commit identity theft. Overall, you have every reason to want this data removed from the web.
Most people-search websites make it easy to opt-out by offering a relevant form or email. It’s important to follow up on your initial request and make sure that your data was successfully and fully removed, as well as go back and ensure that it wasn’t restored later on.
Your mobile data plan: Deleting your information from apps
Apps use various data points to improve the service they provide or simply make a profit. From location to content preferences, the information apps collect might be traded online and shared with third-parties without your awareness or consent. Once again, this is a topic we’ve discussed in detail, with articles offering a step-by-step guide for deleting desktop, Android, and iOS apps.
We’ll remind you that removing an app from your phone does not in any way remove the information it displays or holds. Each part of the data game is different. You must remove the app or adjust its settings to prevent it from gathering new data, remove your account to no longer share existing data with others, and ask the company to delete your details from the web and its servers.
You’re history: Clearing your browser history
The data regarding your website visits and web use isn’t public by definition, but hackers may still get a hold of it and use it against you in different ways. They can use ransomware that threatens to share browsing history and embarrass users, use it to commit fraud, access your financial assets, or sell the data on the dark web. The process of deleting your browsing history depends on your chosen browser, but most follow the same pattern. The general menu offers a dedicated tab for history, where you can choose which data to remove and since when.
Use Mine to manage your online data
Locating and managing your online data is a critical but complicated task, which is precisely why we founded Mine in the first place. By viewing a list of all the services that have access to your data, you can finally manage this aspect of your life independently and effectively.
Cut the process short by making every service that holds your data visible and accountable - delete data from any app you no longer use. Minimizing your digital footprint reduces the risk of your personal information from reaching the internet in the first place (read this to learn what does digital footprint mean).