Are you ready? This is how you can disappear from the internet
There are laws that claim to protect the user's Internet privacy, however, these regulations still have huge gaps that generate a lot of controversies when defining the border between privacy, freedom of expression and the right to information.
If the idea of disappearing from the internet is in your mind, follow the next steps to erase your digital footprint.
As it is well known, all Internet users leave a digital footprint that companies and services use with several purposes such as tracking your online activity and even your daily habits. Purposes for which our information is collected can be both ethical and unethical. For this reason, some internet users consider the possibility of disappearing from the Internet temporarily or permanently (if their will is strong enough living in a digital world). Actually, renowned voices like Jaron Lanier, pioneer of the Internet, recommends leaving the matrix of the web, especially social networks.
Get rid of your social networks accounts
One of the first things you must do to delete yourself from the cyberspace is to unsubscribe social networks, especially Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
In case you are lazy to jump into the unsubscribing process, Sweden developers created Deseat.me to help those interested in deleting all the accounts created in different services and websites. You just need to type your email and password to start the scanning process. Then Deseat.me will provide a list of all those websites you are registered with. You can choose which accounts you want to delete. Unfortunately, Deseat.me service is limited to Gmail accounts and sometimes it doesn't track all the services you log in but it works with big fishes like Twitter or Facebook.
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Clear your shopping record
One of the most sensitive digital prints is your online purchases. E-shops can store important data such as your credit card number, your home address and, of course, the registration of your shopping habits. Deleting your registration in these services is one of the first steps you should take. Surely you will remember those websites where you buy frequently but maybe there are others you don't remember at all. To be sure of deleting your data in all the shopping sites that you have interacted with, you can use tools like DeleteMe, although you will have to pay a membership to use it. The cheapest option is to do it manually by deleting your accounts one by one.
Tip 1: Use the European law
If you live in the EU you have the right to ask Google to remove your data from its search engine and other Google products. However, Google will not remove links connected with your online activity but it will do it if you justify that this attempts your reputation and security.
Remove your info from data brokers
There are sites that are dedicated to track and collect information from Internet users. Later, those databases are sell to companies interested in capturing customers or increasing their sales. There is a big chance that your information is contained in a database of some data broker such as Acxiom, Epsilon and Oracle Data Cloud. Why? Because some of them were associated with Facebook to improve the marketing techniques of the social network. You can request directly those companies to remove your information from their databases, although the process is a bit slow and bureaucratic. However, it is a necessary step to erase your footprint.
Tip 2: Google yourself
If you are not sure how many accounts or profiles you´ve got during these years, there is a simple way to get to know how much information about you is still online. Just google yourself and you will find out how big is your digital footprint. Then you will have a clue about where to start the cleaning.
Unsubscribe from Google
Google has some Internet privacy tools that help you protect your identity and delete your browsing record. They also inform you what third-party applications have access to your information. To use tools such as privacy checkup, security checkup and delete you must access your Google account page.
Tip 3: Use online services for deletion
If you find exhausting to carry out the process of closing each one of your accounts by yourself, you can use services such as Delete Me, Unroll.me, Deset.me and Account Killer.
Remove your blogs and old posts
Remember the old blog that you abandoned some years ago? Or maybe those compromising posts you published in forums? It's time to erase them! Try to access your blog account again and follow the steps to cancel the service. In the case of posts published in forums, you should contact the webmaster to request the removal directly. In the event that you cannot put down your blog or your posts, try to modify as much as possible your registration information to cover your real identity.
Tip 4: Focus on sites with confidential info
Pay attention to those sites that you know they have stored confidential information such as your social security number or your bank account. These websites are the first ones where you should proceed closing your account. If necessary, ask the webmaster to delete you from their database.
Close your email accounts and cloud storage services
This will be the last step and perhaps the most painful one. Once you are sure you have unsubscribed all the services that require login with an email account and when you have downloaded all the important files to your HD from the cloud storage services, it is time to disappear from the internet forever or until desperation makes you return.
Remember that closing all your accounts does not mean that your information will disappear immediately. It will take Google some time to stop including your information in its search results as long as the robots get used to your absence.