Seeking to escape from the Internet? Wondering how to erase your digital footprints from everywhere?
Well, remembering everything you’ve ever done online and removing it is quite difficult, but not impossible. While on one side, online notoriety thrills lots of people, but it can surely be a burden for others.
Learn The Basics: What Is Digital Footprint?
A Digital Footprint is a track of data a user creates while surfing the Internet. It includes all the traces of your online activity, including websites you browse, emails you share, social media feeds you scroll through & information you submit while signing up for any online services.
Therefore, almost everyone who uses technology and the Internet leaves a Digital Footprint. Having an online presence is useful for making connections across the globe. But it can become equally dangerous especially you’ve got any personal or confidential stuff stored online. This includes inappropriate photos, comments, and other personal data, that might showcase you in bad light or affect your reputation.
So, before you implement some measures to delete your online presence:
First, Identify The Reach Of Your Digital Footprint
To see how big a digital footprint you have, run your name through different search engines & see what comes up. Search yourself on all major social media networking sites & make a note of all the undesirable information that pops up.
Have a look at all the forums that you belong to and observe what information about you is available there. Think about the websites you’ve created profiles with or have subscribed to. For this, you can use the search function on your e-mail & look for phrases, ‘Sign up’, ‘Account’, ‘Activation’, ‘Registration’, ‘Username’, ‘Verification’, ‘Password’ or ‘Welcome’.
Take a moment to consider your past activities and passion. Like, what did you like a couple of years ago? Have you participated in any contest or something? These types of questions may lead you to those long-forgotten websites that you’re associated with. Make a list of them!
Once you have scouted these websites through email, the next step is to search for your personally identifying information in quotation marks on Google & other search engines. You can look for things like your “Name”, “Email Address”, “Old or Current Contact Numbers”, “Usernames” and so on.
Not to forget, your favorite apps and programs running on your PC can be a big source for revealing your online activity. So, make a list of these apps as well, that asked for certain permissions during the sign-up process.
At last, try to reminisce about all the hardware pieces you own & think about whether you’ve ever registered for any of your details with the production company maybe for any support or for warranty purposes. Though you should always keep in mind to un-register your name, once the warranty period is over for better privacy!
Now that you have compiled a list of all the online accounts, websites, apps and other platforms that you’d like to delete your digital footprint from. The next step is to start the process to erase your digital footprints!
Leave No Traces: Learn How To Remove Your Digital Footprint?
Erasing your digital footprint is a tough task, but it’s certainly not improbable. Here’s what all you need to do:
1. Delete or Deactivate Your Shopping/Social Media & Web Service Accounts
The very first thing you can do to erase your Internet presence is to delete or deactivate your accounts. To get rid of them, go to these websites’ Account Settings, look for options to deactivate, remove or close account. Often times, you find these options under Privacy & Security or something similar. If you’re unable to remember all such accounts, try using a tool like AccountKiller that can help you track & delete online accounts automatically.
2. Do Not Forget To Delete All The Cookies
It’s often recommended to remove all the cookies every now and then so that no website can be traced back to you by any means. All the popular web browsers Google, Firefox, Microsoft Edge allows users to delete cookies. If you don’t want to follow the long process to clean cookies on each browser one-by-one, you can use a third-party tool like Advanced System Optimizer to delete cookies from all your browsers in one-go!:
3. Submit Google Listing Removal Requests
To erase your personal data from these services, just visit the EU Privacy Removal page and fill in all the fields. This may require some time, but it’s absolutely worth pursuing if you’ve found that your sensitive information such as medical records or bank details are stored somewhere online.
You can even read our Complete Guide To De-Google Your Life Entirely!
4. Eliminate Yourself From Data Collection Websites
Data Brokers like Spokeo, Whitepages.com, PeopleFinder are some familiar names that collect your information and sell them to third-parties. So, that they can bombard you with advertisements and sell stuff. Since there are several data brokers sitting online, you can’t deal with each of the sites individually, so an easier way to opt-out of your name from such sites, try using services like DeleteMe or Deseat.me that can help you clean your digital footprints.
5. Unsubscribe Yourself From Mailing Lists
You can’t obviously remember all the newsletters you’ve subscribed to in your entire life. But there’s a better and easy way to unsubscribe from all them in one go. Try using a tool like Unroll.me , it would help you to see the list of all your subscription emails. You can then easily unsubscribe from each service without any hassles.
6. Delete Forum Entries & Blog Posts
If you wish to remove an old forum post or any blog that you wrote back in the past, you have to contact the webmaster of those websites individually. To contact them, you can either check the About Us or Contacts Section or use the third-party tool like www.whois.com to search for the domain name you wish to connect. The tool would help you find the right person to connect with them to remove your posts.
7. Enable Do Not Track Apps & Programs
There are a plethora of Anti-Virus Guards & Privacy Software that can prevent web browsers and third-party websites from tracking your online activity. Using these security tools ensures that no online service or website can record or store any of your personal data & hence eliminating Digital Footprints.
8. Anti-Tracking Tools
9. Check If Your Information Has Been Compromised Already
Websites like ‘have I been pwned?’ can help you to check if any of your online account and personal details associated with it has been compromised in a data breach or not. To check your information, just enter your email address on the main dashboard and it would list the websites where your data was unintentionally or intentionally exposed to the public.
Digital Footprint Removed Up To 99%, But What Next?
Removing the trail of data means deleting your online life & eventually eliminating the risk of misuse of information. On a serious note, we understand that removing all your online activities is not practically possible. However, with certain protective measures, you can somehow manage your Digital Footprints.
1. Spend a dedicated amount of time in double-checking every social media privacy setting you use, but never trust them. These policies keep changing from time to time, so never miss the opportunity to verify them on a regular basis.
2. Create strong & complex passwords, avoid keeping the most popular combinations like Birthdates, Anniversaries, Names of your children, spouse or pets. You can take the help of dedicated password generators like TweakPass to create unique and complex passwords for each of your accounts.
3. Surf the Internet anonymously to the extent it’s conceivable. By switching to the Incognito mode, you can simply limit the cookies to be scrapped by the websites!
4. Try using VPNs for more secured Internet surfing. Dedicated VPN Solutions like Surfshark for Windows, CyberGhost VPN for macOS, & NordVPN for Linux can be used to encrypt all your online trafficking via various protocols.
Besides these, contribute to a positive digital footprint by posting things that describe who you actually are. Avoid negative tweets, untag yourself from unsuitable pictures and videos. Try keeping critical comments to yourself and better showcase your work or hobby which you’re genuinely passionate about.
Digital Footprints simply open the gates for hackers and spies to track you. Leaving Internet presence behind can induce bad guys to use your information without your consent and generate revenue on your behalf. Anything inappropriate posted using your name can tarnish your reputation. Therefore, Erasing Digital Footprint is a crucial topic which everyone should desire to learn about!
Send us more tips that you think can help to delete one’s online presence!