How to Get Rid of Your Online Footprint
If you've spent any significant time online in the past few years, you have probably read all about the importance of making sure that nothing you say or do online can be used against you at any time. It is simple for companies and people to discover personal details about you if you have multiple social media accounts and/or other internet accounts.
But is it possible to get rid of your online footprint completely? Maybe. It will take a few steps and a few minutes of your time, but you can try to get rid of your online data for the most part (some data may not be erasable, though) -- here's how to do it.
Find out how much is known about you already. This is the easy part. Simply open up your browser, search for your name, and see where information about you pops up. Make sure to look at images too. Sometimes an image can be linked to a page that contains more information about you or your loved ones.
Look at your social media accounts. Log out of all social media accounts, and then search for your name. Take a look at what you can see. Do you see a lot of personal information and things like personal photographs? If so, change your privacy settings (you will have to log back in to do this) and make sure that most of the information you post is private - or, better yet, delete it completely.
Contact webmasters if information about you is posted on some site that you are not familiar with. Simply ask that your name and any details about your life be removed. In most cases, webmasters are happy to get rid of this information for you.
Do not store credit card or other financial data online. If you use sites like Amazon, consider setting up an alternative email account (not your main one) - while this may seem inconvenient or over-kill, this will make it a bit harder for hackers to target you. If you do not use an account any longer, get rid of it. There's no point in letting your personal financial information linger.
Browse in private mode. Most browsers have a private mode setting (and so does the browser that you use on your phone or tablet!). Browse in private when you can.
Ask people you know not to post photos or information about you online. Explain your reasons, and then ask to have anything that pertains to you removed.
Caution: Do Not Delete!
If you are in the middle of a court case, it is not recommended that you actively try and delete any online information. Why? The act of deletion could be incriminating. You can, however, make some posts private and post only private details about your life in the future.
Social Media and the internet have made our lives simpler. Unfortunately, there are those who trust too much and share too much, and there are bad people looking to capitalize on that information. While I would never want to infringe upon anyone's freedom of speech, I would caution everyone to exercise restraint before posting personal and financial information on the internet.
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