Have you found your personal information on the internet? Well, don’t be surprised, because big data companies like Google & Facebook have been feeding on your private information since their inception. Although, the good news is you can remove that data from the internet. But how? How to remove personal information from the internet?
Read the article to find out!
- You can’t completely delete your personal information from the internet.
- But you can reduce your digital footprints by opting out of the data broker sites, deleting personal data from your blog or website, requesting legal data removal, deleting old email addresses, and deleting/modifying your social media or online shopping account.
- To reduce the chances of online data theft always try to use privacy-centric browsers, regularly delete cache/cookies/history on your browser, read the “Data Safety” section before installing any app, audit the permissions that are granted to the apps, use security tools like VPN and antivirus softwares, and don’t overshare your personal life on the internet.
How to remove personal information from the internet?
Finding one’s personal information on the internet is one of the worst nightmares a user can come across in his life.
Yes, with billions of internet users around the globe, it has become much easier for data companies to feed on their personal data,
And as they say “Nothing is free in this world, everything comes at a cost”,
Here, in this case, your data and privacy is the cost.
So, if you have any kind of delusion that you are using the internet for free, then you might want to change your perspective,
And follow the mentioned methods to remove your personal information from the internet.
- Opt out of data brokers and people search sites.
- Delete any personal site or blog page.
- Request data removal directly from the websites.
- Send a legal data removal request to Google.
- Delete/Modify your social media or online shopping accounts.
- Access Google’s activity control.
- Delete old email accounts.
- Delete unnecessary apps from your device.
- Delete all the data from your smart devices.
However, remember, you can’t completely delete your information from the internet, but only reduce your digital footprints.
Opt out of data brokers and people search sites.
There are many data brokers sites like Mylife, Pipl, Spokeo, and Whitepages out in the market
Which collects your personal information such as name, address, date of birth, name of family members, email address, etc.
Now, you might be thinking why would these sites even do such a thing?
Well, to simply answer, your data is as precious as gold, and when these sites collect your personal information, they sell it to different businesses to generate revenue and targeted ads for you.
So, the first thing that you are requested to do is visit these data broker sites and look for the opt-out form or option.
If you don’t find one, then you might need to contact them through email,
And if you do, just remember to do a formal follow-up to these sites, as sometimes they don’t revert back to their users.
Not just that, sites like Whitepages ask their users to sign up if they want to remove their PII.
Hence, always use a burner email address and then request data deletion.
Delete any personal site or blog page.
Few people on the internet host a personal site or a blog page where they mention their personal information
Like name, address, contact details, name of family members, daily routine, etc.
However, the presentation of such personal information can help fraudster access your accounts and scam you.
Therefore, it is advised to delete that website or blog page permanently from the internet,
So that you don’t have to suffer a crucial data theft.
Request data removal directly from the websites.
Sometimes some other website owners or blog owners post sensitive information on their sites.
Usually, this happens when someone is a famous personality, because why not, everyone wants to know where that person lives, what he/she does, is he/she married or unmarried.
The best example of such a website is Wikipedia, where you can find the full name, address, and some other personal information of your favorite celebrity.
But, sometimes this information can get into the hands of the wrong person and can be used for bigger scams.
Therefore, it is better to contact the respective website/blog owners and request them to remove your information.
Send a legal data removal request to Google.
If the above-mentioned method misfires and the webmaster denies removing your personal information from the website or blog,
Then you can try sending a legal data removal request to Google.
Yes, Google has provided this alternative to its users if they find it hard to remove their information from a particular website.
Although, remember, if you do opt for this option, you may have to wait for some days to see the results.
Plus, there is a possibility that it might not fully remove your information.
So, keep some space for disappointments.
Social media or online shopping portals like Instagram & Amazon respectively have become one of the most loved resources on the internet.
Many users have been involved with these sites for many years, and therefore the database that these sites hold is very strong.
Hence, a cybercriminal can easily extract crucial information like facial data, names of family members or friends, contact numbers, and financial data from such sites.
Therefore, to save yourself from these kinds of data breaches, you are advised to either delete your entire social media/online shopping account from the internet or change certain information about yourself.
Not just that, remove any kind of personal photo which you think can be used against you.
Access Google’s activity control.
You probably might be aware of the fact that Google is one of the biggest banks when it comes to data collection.
Every single data and habit of yours is used to provide targeted ads.
No doubt, people working at Google constantly monitor the site and block any malicious activity right away, but still, user’s privacy is at risk,
Because Google knows more about you than you might know.
Don’t believe us?
Then you might want to check it out by yourself by visiting your Google Account.
Now, if you want to remove it, then just visit this page to make a removal request to Google, and still if it shows on the search result,
Then visit Google’s Search Console, and request for the cache to be cleared and the information to be removed from the search engine itself.
Delete old email accounts.
Do you still have access to your old email accounts?
Well, if you do, then it’s time to say a permanent goodbye to them because they might be scanning your emails for personalized ad targeting.
Want more secure email clients that won’t scan your emails to provide personalized ads?
Then, you should give ProtonMail or StartMail a try.
Delete unnecessary apps from your device.
If your mobile device has unnecessary apps installed on it, then it may leak some of your personal data.
For instance, Facebook is notoriously known to grab its user’s data and use it for advertisement.
Not just that, there has been a constant debate that Facebook listens to your conversation and then caters ads accordingly.
Therefore, you might want to delete such apps for good.
Delete all the data from your smart devices.
Lastly, if you own a smart home speaker like Alexa or Google, then you might want to consider checking upon its “privacy” or “my activity” section for any personal data like voice recordings.
Moreover, if you own a smart tv, then it is better to check its settings page because smart tv uses ACR (Automated Content Recognition) technology to track what you watch and then target you with such advertisements.
What are some precautionary measures one should always keep in mind while on the internet?
Always use privacy-centric browsers.
Browsers are the main source of data, as it contains all of your saved passwords, browsing history, and the important one cookies & cache.
Many big companies nowadays have started this thing where they ask visitors to accept cookies and cache before visiting that site, and if they don’t they can’t access the site.
So, it is better to use privacy-centric browsers like DuckDuckGo, Firefox, and Safari, that won’t leak your data to these big companies.
As mentioned before, your browsing history, cookies, and cache are something that determines your online behavior, which is directly responsible for ad generation.
So, it is better to delete all of your browsing history, cookies, and cache to opt-out of this mess.
Every social media, dating, or online shopping platform has this dedicated section called “Privacy” where users can customize the settings to make sure that their data doesn’t slip away from the platform.
So, I suggest you go through the settings menu of that respective platform and then customize your privacy to the fullest.
Government and bank agencies nowadays are requesting people not to share any of their financial data with strangers, as doing so may cost you a hefty amount of financial loss.
Therefore, if you are asked to fill out your financial information on the internet, then think twice before doing so.
Watch out for spammy emails.
Emails are a soft spot for spammers as they try to spam people by sending a legitimate-looking email, that contains spammy links.
So, if you get an email that calls you out to fill in any of your personal data, then always double-check the link by hovering over it.
And if you find that it is redirecting you towards a different website, then better skip it for good.
Avoid sharing your personal life on the internet.
Nowadays social media has become a medium of communication and a part of our everyday life.
And with everything making a shift to this part of the online community, everyone has started sharing their personal lives on the internet to stay in the limelight.
However, sharing your personal life on the internet can be hazardous, as cybercriminals can use this information for their gain.
So, it is advised to either share minimum or none of your personal life on social media sites
Always use a VPN as well as anti-virus software.
It is not a hidden fact that your data is available publicly on the internet.
But did you know your ISP and Government agencies can also snoop on your internet activity?
Well, it is true, anything you do is visible to your ISP or government agencies.
Therefore, purchasing a premium VPN service that has no log policy, along with different locations is the best choice.
A VPN encrypts your data in such a way that no one can snoop on your internet activity.
Moreover, it is also advised that you install good antivirus software that will protect your data from malware attacks.
Always go through the “Data Safety” section before installing any app on your phone.
Did you know that the apps you are installing on your phone can steal your data?
Well, then you might want to check the “Data Safety” section that is available on the App Store or Google Play Store.
This section will give you information about the kind of data the app collects.
And if you don’t agree to it, then you can either uninstall the app or skip the installation process.
Audit the permissions that are granted to the apps.
As previously mentioned, the apps that are installed on your device can gain access to certain features of your phone.
For instance, a gaming app can access your location secretly.
Hence, you should always audit the permissions granted to the apps regularly, and remove the apps that you feel are unsafe.
Understand and take advantage of the new data privacy law.
Lastly, if you live in a region where a data privacy law has been passed, then you might want to take advantage of the same, and opt out of the sale of your personal information and data.
Final Remarks on “How to remove personal information from the internet?”
Personal information is one of the biggest assets a person can own in his/her lifetime, as it can reveal a person’s real identity including his/her real name, address, and contact number.
But, this very thing can cause a great deal of inconvenience like data theft if it is made available on the internet.
So, if you did a Google search of your name, and found your personal information all over the internet, then you can easily reduce those digital footprints by following this simple guide.