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How To Clear Your Personal Information From The Internet?

Discover practical steps to clear your personal information from the internet with our comprehensive guide, helping you protect your privacy and online identity

By Michael-Ibekie-headshot

Learning how to delete or remove your personal information from the internet is very important. Search engines like Google can make your home address, email account, and personal data uncomfortably accessible, amplifying the need for effective privacy settings and strategies to scrub your digital footprint.

This guide will show you how to opt-out from data broker sites, request removal of search results, and deactivate online accounts to safeguard your online privacy. You’ll discover how to delete accounts, remove personal information from people search sites, and protect your identity through tools like VPNs. 

Whether you want to remove your personal information from Google search results or need to understand how to secure your email account and privacy settings, these ways will help you navigate the complexities of data deletion and control over your personal information on the internet. Join us as we explore how to gain your cybersecurity and reclaim control over your personal data.

Identify Your Online Accounts Using The Internet

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Finding Your Information Online

Use Search Engines: Enter your full name, email addresses, previous addresses, phone numbers, and other unique identifiers into search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. Make sure to try different variations and combinations of your information to cover all possible to get traces.

Specialized Search Tools: Employ tools such as Pipl, Spokeo, or PeekYou. These services delve into deeper layers of the web, pulling information from databases that are not immediately visible on standard search engines. They can find details tied to both your online and offline presence.

Set Up Google Alerts: Configure Google Alerts for your name and other personal identifiers. This service sends you an email whenever new mentions appear online, enabling you to monitor your digital footprint continuously.

Prioritizing Sensitive Information for Removal

High Priority (Immediate Risk)

Financial Information: Credit card details, bank account numbers, and any financial records.

Personal Identification Numbers: Social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and other government-issued IDs.

Contact Information: Home addresses, personal phone numbers, and private email addresses.

Medium Priority (Reputational Risk)

Professional Details: Resumes, employment history, and professional relationships that you may no longer want to be publicly accessible.

Personal Life: Old social media profiles, posts, and photographs, particularly those that might be viewed as unprofessional or inappropriate.

Membership Information: Lists and logs of memberships in various groups or forums, especially if they could be controversial.

Low Priority (General Cleanup)

Non-sensitive Mentions: Public comments on news sites, articles, guest books, or forums where you have participated in general discussions.

Old Accounts: Profiles on less sensitive platforms like old gaming forums or inactive social media accounts that don't contain personal or sensitive information from these sites but might clutter your digital history.

Removing Your Information From Data Brokers and People-Search Sites

Opt Out From Data Brokers

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Identify Major Data Brokers: Start with well-known data brokers like Acxiom, BeenVerified, Spokeo, and PeopleFinders. Websites like Privacy Rights Clearinghouse provide a comprehensive list of these data brokers along with direct links to their opt-out pages.

Visit Each Broker's Opt-Out Page: Navigate to the opt-out section of each data broker's website. This is typically found in the privacy policy or at the bottom of the home page.

Submit Your Opt-Out Request: You'll usually need to provide some proof of identity, which may include uploading a driver's license (with certain details obscured for your protection) or filling out an online form. Make sure to follow each site’s specific instructions carefully to ensure your request is processed.

Confirm and Save: Once your request is submitted, you’ll often receive a confirmation email. Save this for your records. In some cases, you may need to click a link in an email to finalize the opt-out process.

Set Reminders for Regular Checks: Since new data from the internet can be collected and added, set a reminder to repeat this process at least once a year.

Clean Up People Search Sites

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Identify Key People-Search Sites: Start with popular sites like Whitepages, Intelius, and Instant Checkmate. These platforms often have detailed personal profiles available to the public records.

Search for Your Profile: Enter your name and other identifying details to find your profile. You may need to search variations of your name or any old addresses to ensure you find all instances.

Locate the Opt-Out Page: Most people-search websites have an opt-out link, usually found in the website's footer under "Privacy" or "Do Not Sell My Info."

Submit an Opt-Out Request: Follow the site-specific instructions to request profile removal. This typically involves verifying your identity, which may require you to upload a form of ID (ensure you cover up any sensitive information like your photo or ID number).

Check for Confirmation: Some sites send a confirmation email or provide a confirmation number. Keep these for your records.

Set a Reminder for Periodic Checks: Since these sites frequently update their databases with new data, it's a good idea to check back periodically to ensure your information hasn't been re-added.

Tools to Aid in the Process

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Bitwarden: Use this password manager to streamline the process of logging into different sites, especially if you need to create accounts to request removal.

Privacy-focused browser extensions: Tools like Privacy Badger can help block trackers as you navigate these sites, protecting your browsing habits.

Delete or Deactivate Your Online Accounts

Social Media, Web Service, and Shopping Accounts

Identify and Log In: Make a list of all your accounts, including social media, shopping, and web services. Log into each account you wish to close. You might need to recover passwords for accounts you haven't used in a while.

Find the Account Settings: Typically, the option to delete or deactivate an account is found in the settings or privacy section of the account's website or app.

Choose to Delete or Deactivate:

Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to either deactivate (which makes your data invisible to others but retains the data for reactivation) or delete your information (which permanently removes your data after a grace period).

Shopping Accounts: Sites like Amazon and eBay often have a straightforward process for closing accounts, but you may need to clear any outstanding orders or issues first.

Web Services: Services like Dropbox or Google may require you to download your stored data before deletion if you wish to keep your files.

Follow Through: Complete any additional forms required and follow the steps provided by the site to finalize the deletion or deactivation.

Clean or Delete Old Email Accounts

Backup Important Emails: Before deleting any email account, ensure that you save copies of important emails, contacts, and attachments. You can do this by forwarding emails to your current account or using an email backup service.

Unsubscribe from Newsletters and Alerts: Log into the account and unsubscribe from any newsletters or alerts to prevent your inbox from accumulating new emails after you've stopped using it.

Update Accounts Linked to the Email: Check if your old email is linked to other online services like social media platforms, online stores, or subscription services. Update these services with a current email address.

Securely Delete the Account:

Find the Delete Option: Navigate to the settings or account section of the email provider’s website. Look for options like “Close Account” or “Delete Account.”

Follow the Provider's Steps: Each email service has different steps for account deletion. Follow these steps carefully. For example, Gmail requires you to sign into the Google Account associated with the email and then choose “Delete a service or your account.”

Confirm Deletion: After initiating deletion, the service will usually send an email to either confirm the deletion or notify you that the account will be deleted after a certain period. Confirm if required.

Check Deletion: Try logging in after the stated period to ensure the account is no longer active. Some providers might reactivate the account upon login attempt, so it’s important to check that the account is truly deleted.

Clean Up Your Digital History

Methods for Clearing Browsing History, Cookies, and Cache

Access Browser Settings: In most browsers, you can find settings related to history and privacy under the "Options," "Preferences," or "Settings" menu.

Clear Browsing History: Look for a section labeled "Privacy," "History," or "Security," and find the option to clear your browsing history. You can choose to delete everything or select a specific time range.

Delete Cookies and Cache: In the same section, you should find options to clear cookies and cached files. Clearing these will log you out of most websites and could slow your initial browsing speed as sites reload, but it is crucial for removing stored data that could compromise your privacy.

Browser-Specific Instructions:

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Tools to Aid in the Process

Social Book Post Manager (for Facebook): This browser extension helps automate the process of finding and deleting old posts based on year and keyword.

TweetDelete: A tool for automatically deleting old tweets based on your preferences, such as age of tweets or specific content.

Update Search Engine Results and Remove Personal Info

Requesting Removal of Personal Information from Google

Identify the Information: First, determine the type of personal information you want removed. Google typically considers removing content that includes confidential personal information like social security numbers, bank account details, and images of signatures.

Use Google’s Removal Tool:

Navigate to Google’s Legal Removal Requests page: Google provides a straightforward way to submit removal requests for sensitive personal information.

Fill out the form: Describe the nature of the information and why it needs to be removed. Provide URLs of the pages or search results that display the information.

Submit and track your request: After submission, keep track of your request with any reference numbers provided by Google.

Follow-Up: If the request is approved, Google will remove the specific content from search results. However, this does not remove the content from the website it is hosted on; you may need to contact the website owner for that.

Remove Personal Information from Websites

Locate Contact Information: First, find a way to contact the website owner. Look for contact details in the website's footer or on a "Contact Us" page. If no contact information is available, use a WHOIS search to find the site owner's email or phone number.

Draft a Polite Request: When you contact the owner, keep your message polite and concise. Ask them to remove and clearly state what specific information and why. Include the URL of the page that contains your information to make it easy for the site owner to find.

Here is a template that you can follow:

Dear [Webmaster's name or "Webmaster"],

I am writing to you today to request that you remove my personal information from your website, [Website Name]. Specifically, I would like you to remove the following information:

[List of personal information to be removed]

I understand that you may not be legally obligated to remove this information, but I would be grateful if you would do so. I am concerned about the privacy of my personal information, and I do not want it to be available to the public.

I have tried to remove this information myself, but I have been unable to do so. I am therefore asking for your help in this matter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Follow-Up: If you don't receive a response within a reasonable timeframe (typically one to two weeks), send a follow-up message. Remain polite but firm in your request.

Protect Your Information on Smart Devices

Smartphones

Review App Permissions: Regularly check the permissions you've granted to each app. Ensure that only necessary permissions are allowed, such as location or camera access only when absolutely required.

Update Security Settings:

Enable Biometric Locks: Use fingerprint scanning or facial recognition to lock your phone.

Set Up a Strong Password or PIN: Ensure your device is protected with a strong password or PIN that is hard to guess.

Install Security Software: Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware apps to protect your phone from malicious software.

Regular Updates: Keep your operating system and apps updated to the latest versions to ensure you have the latest security patches.

Smart Home Devices

Change Default Passwords: Many smart home devices come with default passwords that are easily accessible online. Change these immediately upon setup.

Manage Device Permissions:

Review and Adjust: Regularly review which devices are connected to your smart home system and adjust their permissions accordingly.

Disconnect Unnecessary Devices: Remove devices that no longer need to be connected to your smart home network.

Secure Your Network:

Use a Secure Wi-Fi Network: Ensure your home Wi-Fi is secured with WPA3 encryption.

Use VPN Network: Tools like NordVPN and ExpressVPN can be used to secure your browsing and avoid leaking your personal information.

Separate Networks: Use separate networks for your personal devices and your smart home devices to reduce risks.

Engage Privacy Settings on Social Media and Browsers

Social Media

Review Privacy Settings: Regularly check and adjust the privacy settings on all your social media platforms. Ensure that your posts are shared only with intended audiences, such as friends or connections, and not publicly available.

Manage Tagging and Location Sharing:

Tagging: Adjust settings to review and approve any tags before they appear on your timeline.

Location Sharing: Turn off location sharing to prevent social media from displaying your current location.

Audit Connected Apps: Periodically review and disconnect any third-party apps that have access to your social media profiles but are no longer in use.

Web Browsers

Enable ‘Do Not Track’: Activate the 'Do Not Track' feature found in most browsers, which requests that your browsing activity not be tracked by websites.

Use Privacy-Focused Browsers: Consider using browsers like Brave or Firefox Focus that are designed to enhance privacy by blocking trackers and advertisements by default.

Clear Cookies and History Regularly: Set your browser to automatically clear cookies and browsing history after each session to minimize the risk of data leaks.

Utilize Private Browsing Modes: Use features like Incognito Mode in Chrome or Private Browsing in Safari when researching sensitive topics to prevent storing history and cookies.

Tools to Assist in Privacy Management

Jumbo: An app that helps manage your privacy settings across different social media platforms by providing suggestions and easy navigation to relevant settings.

Ghostery: A browser extension that blocks trackers and helps manage website permissions to enhance privacy.

Enroll in Data Removal Services

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You would want to consider signing up for a privacy services like MyDataRemoval. We continuously monitor and ensure that your information stays off the web, offering you long-term privacy solutions. By enrolling with MyDataRemoval, you take a significant step towards securing your digital footprint and make sure your personal data online removed and free from data breach. 

Reach out to us at hello@mydataremoval.com or call us at (855) 700-2914 to get started with clearing your information on the internet and maintaining your online privacy.

Conclusion

The quest to delete yourself from the Internet and keeping your personal information private from platforms like Google or various data brokers is an essential step towards enhanced privacy online. Whether you aim to remove sensitive information from people-search websites, delete old accounts from social media sites, or ensure your data is not misused by entities that collect and sell it, understanding and utilizing the right tools and methods is crucial.

Remember, managing your online presence isn't a one-and-done affair but a continuous process that requires vigilance and regular updates. From opting out on each platform's specific opt-out page to submitting a request for data removal, every step you take makes a significant difference in protecting your personal data. 

Services like MyDataRemoval can assist in automating some of these tasks, focusing on privacy protection and reducing the risk of cybercrimes like doxxing or identity theft.