Today, data has evolved into one of the most crucial resources in the world. Unlike tangible resources like wood and fuel, the same data set can be used repeatedly and for different applications. Tons of user information gets observed or generated by tech and algorithms to facilitate the personalization we see today.
How and Why Do We Generate Data?
Thus, you might already know that even the biggest corporations in the world need your data to survive. For instance, Facebook and Google services might appear free. However, you pay them in a different currency: your data. Social media might use your posts and interactions with ads to determine your likes and dislikes. In some cases, uploaded photos can be used for improving facial recognition or other technologies. Sadly, we do not know everything that happens to our data.
It’s a scary notion that your personal details may be floating around on the internet, exchanging hands without your permission. Furthermore, your personally identifiable information can land on the internet through phishing, data breaches, sales conducted to data brokers, or similar reasons. Still, a few procedures can help you minimize the damage. If you wish to know how to remove your information from the internet, this guide and steer you in the right direction.
Refrain from sharing personal information
The first step starts with you refusing to share any personal information on forums, review websites, social media accounts, and gaming portals. You would not want to tell a fellow gamer anything about your first pet’s name or your full name.
Moreover, you should never post media pertaining to your location or information that someone can use to track you. For instance, if you’re out on vacation, control your impulses and publish photos and videos after you return. It helps filter out the content you genuinely desire to share and prevents any sinister individuals from stalking you.
Check with the search engines to remove your data
Search engines like Google and Bing use your devices’ data to improve ad targeting. However, the entities who run those ads can obtain personally identifiable information about you, which can quickly fall into the wrong hands.
Therefore, removing any permissions that allow search engines to collect data from you is an excellent idea. You can go to the Privacy Settings in Google and turn off ad personalization so that it doesn’t share your data with advertisers. There are similar features for other services like Microsoft, Steam, and Twitter.
Furthermore, you can request Google to remove some search results that might be inaccurate or old. Of course, the first step would be to contact web admins who control your data on a specific web. If you don’t, Google will only remove the search result, but the data will still be visible on other channels.
Wipe your cache
When browsing the internet, certain websites may only allow you access to their content once you agree to their terms or download something to your computer. While it is mostly harmless, a few websites can break your trust and install something malicious on your devices, like a keylogger or a trojan.
The first step you can do is remove the cache that you have accumulated. Furthermore, reject third-party cookies that might collect information about your activities.
Review your social media accounts
Rushing through life, we often forget what we share on social media and how it can be used to compromise personal information. Thus, you should review your social media accounts regularly and remove any posts that might reveal your location or personal data. Experts also advise checking permissions given to the various social media apps on your PC and smartphone.
You should also delete any applications from your PC and mobile phone that you are no longer using. Some of them might still have permission to collect your personal data. During the uninstall, ensure to delete all the temporary files as well.
Hire a service to track and remove your online data
You can hire professional data removal services that purge all your personal information from the internet. You can never determine who has your phone number or residential address after they come across it via your transaction history or a data broker.
Best services for removing your personal data from the internet
There are many services online that offer to purge all your online data. Yet, a few stand out from the crowd, making their purges more thorough and delivering better value.
- Incogni. A premium service that includes most of the data brokers from the EU, UK, and the US. The service keeps rechecking to ensure that your data is not re-added to any database.
- 411.com. 411 works with White Pages to remove all your personal information from the internet, including your phone number. It always verifies your profile before deleting the relevant entries from the available databases. Once you confirm your identity, your data gets deleted within 24 hours.
- Privacy Bee. It is a little expensive but allows you more control over which companies can and can’t access your personal data. You can even allocate it as an extension that prevents any trackers from entering your system.
Use a VPN
The final step is taking care of your IP address that pops up whenever you browse. For instance, all websites read your IP address to determine your location and other attributes. So, a VPN for PC or another device can be highly beneficial in ensuring that you never reveal your true whereabouts.
Instead, you can connect to a remote server offered by a Virtual Private Network app. Then, all traffic gets encrypted and rerouted through that server. And, of course, your IP address also gets replaced with the one pinpointing your chosen server location.
With so many aspects of our lives going online, we should do our best to filter out any private information. We hope this guide assists you in how to remove your information from the internet. Of course, GDPR and other data privacy regulations can help users remove data manually. After all, services should have the means for implementing such requests.