remove my personal information from the internet

How Do I Remove My Personal Information From the Internet for Free?

Wondering how to remove my personal information from the internet? Learn how to do it for free with our complete guide. 

Remove personal information from Google

Every week, we read a scary new headline about cybercrime and identity theft. The reputable services you use are not immune to anonymous hackers, who take advantage of weaknesses in their systems. Maybe you’ve considered something else like removing yourself from the Internet totally (removing your online accounts). Well, when we talk about this, there’s good news and some bad news.

Since the mid-1990s, government and court agencies are posting public records online. Voter files, property tax assessments, motor vehicle records, court files, and professional licenses are all added to those digital books, and they will stay there for a long period of time.

If you take some steps, you will be able to remove plenty of online information about you on the internet and reduce your digital footprint.

For those who would like to avoid data breaches and to remove their information from the internet space and data broker sites, we have some steps that you will need to take so you can be sure that your information is totally removed from all online sources and Google search results.

Search Yourself

If you are wondering how to start the process of removing all the data that companies collect from the internet space you should start by finding all the places where your information is published and visible.

Google yourself

The first thing that you need to do is to Google yourself and look for sensitive information (medical and financial records, financial accounts, online banking, physical address, health insurance details, intimate details, etc.)

If any individual is trying to learn more about you or your business, the first action they will do is to Google your name.

Things that will appear are publications you have made, blogs, news about you, and most importantly, your social media profiles. We suggest you note them because later you will have a chance to remove that personal information from Google.

People’s search engines

With these data engines, other people are able to check your background with minimum effort. The best thing is, that you can remove your personal information stored from these broker websites relatively easily but first, you will need to do research and see on which websites your name appears.

You can start your research with big and well-known websites such as Truthfinder, Intelius, PeopleFinders, Instant Checkmate, Pipl, ZoomInfo, US Search, Spokeo, and many others.

Social Media

If you made a decision to check your social media accounts, we will suggest you start with the “About Me” sections. This part is a real treasure full of information for these data broker websites scrapers and any other snoopers who are looking for your personal info.

You will need to remove all the information from that section that you don’t want to share, and we will suggest you check any addresses or locations because they are even more important.

What are Data Brokers?

In this new informational era, your data is a product. Data brokers are those companies that are actually making money from selling your personal details on the internet.

If you are learning about them right now you shouldn’t be afraid because you are not alone. A lot of people are not informed or aware that data brokers exist, and they learn about them once they try to remove their information from the internet.

In the US, companies called data brokers collect public and private information from the internet and offer it to the highest bidder. They maintain dossiers on you, which may include your Social Security number, and work with both private entities and government agencies.

These companies make it harder to remove online information, this is happening especially in the United States, where they’re very loosely regulated.

The federal agencies are limited by the Privacy Act on how much information they are able to hold about American citizens. On the other hand, we have data brokers who have additional freedom when it comes to collecting and compiling personal data which may include your Social Security number from credit reporting agencies and other important personal information.

Removing your info from Data Brokers’ sites

If you are looking to remove your information from the internet space you should always start with data broker websites as they tend to release personally identifying information.

Because these companies are making their living from selling your information online they usually have a lot of information about you that is meticulously organized.

As we already mentioned, you will have the option to send a removal request and remove your information from these data companies without much trouble.

Here are the steps:

  • Be mindful of your online privacy. Always read the terms of service before joining a website, and do not provide information to any service that requests it. Delete any personal information that you have already made public, or simply refrain from providing such information in the first place. Additionally, you should lock your social media profiles or you can also consider deleting those that you are not using at all.
  • Opting out of every site manually. You need to know that different websites and different companies will have non-identical policies which means that you will need to take a different approach and ask them individually to remove your online information. There are more than 60 different broker websites but if you are trying to remove your information you can start from the main websites like Oracle, or Acxiom and once you remove your info from there, it will be removed from all associated websites also.
  • Content removal services. If you do not have the nerves or time to go manually through the opt-opt process of so many websites you can always pay the professionals to do that job for you.
  • Use reputation management company services. In case you are a business owner, actively managing and monitoring your online presence will be a crucial part.

Removing your information from Social Media

Your social media accounts are considered the second biggest source of information that you should check together with your email accounts when you are trying to remove your personal information from the internet space.

Here is how you can remove your information from your social media platforms.

Locate your profiles

You cannot simply deactivate your social media accounts and expect them to be deleted from the internet. The average user has an account on multiple platforms. To remove your information, you will have to go through each one separately. Start with the most popular social media—Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are very good places to start your journey.

Because you already decided to remove your personal information from the internet space, a great option will be, to begin with, the social platforms that hold plenty of information about you.

We are all aware of how much damage can be made by a single tweet that is more than five years old. You should try to remember if there are any inappropriate things that you have said or shared, they can come back to haunt you.

Deleting your Facebook account

Once you decide that you want to remove yourself from Facebook, you will have two different options to do that. You will be able to delete or deactivate your account and deactivations means that your account will be put on hold.

Will these steps remove my information from the internet?

This step is going to remove your information from the internet because a deactivated account is the same as a deleted account in Google’s eyes. The advantage here is that you can reactivate your account at any time.

Here is how you can deactivate your Facebook account:

  • Settings > General.
  • Choose “Manage your account”.
  • Go and click “Deactivate your account” and just confirm.

If you are looking to delete your account here are the steps:

  • Go to Facebook’s help page.
  • Select “Download Info” and you will get an archive of your posts and pictures.
  • Select “Delete Account” in order to delete your Facebook profile for good.

These steps will delete your Facebook account in total, and you will not be able to recover it later. You need to know that if you delete your Facebook account, your messenger will be removed as well and you are not going to stay in touch with your Facebook friends.

On the other hand, if you deactivate your Facebook account, you will be able to use the messenger option and stay in touch with your friends, but you won’t have a Facebook account.

Deleting your Twitter account

On Twitter, you will not be able to delete your account right away. They will offer you two different options to come back to your profile in the future or to wait for your Twitter account to be deleted after some period of time.

If you are looking for steps on how to delete your Twitter and to decrease the personal information that is showing on search pages, here are the steps:

  • Choose “Privacy and account settings”.
  • Account > Deactivate.
  • Put your password and select “Deactivate Account”.
  • For those who are not going to log back in the next 30 days, Twitter will remove their accounts automatically.

Deleting your Instagram account

Similar to Facebook there are two options (deletion and deactivation) for Instagram as well. A great option is that you can do this on your cell phone.

Another important question here is if you have a private Instagram account. In case you decide to switch your Instagram account to “private” you should know that action will also reduce information that is available about you on the internet but it won’t remove your name totally from the internet space.

Follow these steps if you want to deactivate your Instagram profile from your desktop:

  • Sign in to your Instagram account.
  • Go to “Edit Profile”.
  • Click “Temporarily disable my account” which can be found at the bottom of the page.
  • Select the reason why you are disabling your Instagram account.
  • Put your Instagram password to confirm your actions.
  • Select “Temporarily disable my account” again.

For those who would like to permanently delete their account on Instagram on a desktop:

  • Log into your account.
  • Visit “The Instagram help page”.
  • Select the reason for deleting from the drop-down menu.
  • Enter your Instagram password once again.
  • Select “Permanently delete my account”.

After you are done with these steps you will probably want to consider downloading all of your Instagram data. To do this, you will need to go to the download request page and put your account details. You will need to be patient because it may take up to 48 hours for you to receive your files.

Opt out of marketing associations

To save yourself time and space in your inboxes, you can opt out of unsolicited marketing mail. The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) is a trade association for marketers. The “Direct Mail Marketing Association” the DMA includes companies from 48 different countries and it is founded in 1918. It is part of the Association of National Advertisers, which means that all association members will respect your communication preferences from when you opt out through the DMA.

To ease your job, the DMA has an online tool that will help you opt out of physical marketing mail and that service will cost only 2$ for 10 years.

Another very interesting option is to add yourself (for free) to the Email Preference Service (eMPS). This is the list that companies use in order to remove themselves from national US email lists. Their website also has some options like a “Do Not Call” list for certain states.

Last Words

We hope that our guide will be helpful for the individuals that decide to keep their information more limited when it comes to the internet space.

This guide will help you stay “under the radar,” and you won’t be able to see much of your personal information shared on the internet in the future. Remember that you can always ask for additional security from your internet service provider.

Those who want additional protection should always keep an eye on their browser history because other details come into play with web browsing history and hackers. There are usually online shopping lists and your bank account details which can jeopardize your internet security.

Additionally, remember that many mobile apps you have on your smartphone and tablet collect personal details such as email address, your name, web browsing habits, and other personal details.

Need more help to remove personal information from the internet? Contact us now!

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