How to Disappear from the Internet [INFOGRAPHIC]
The amount of information available online has gotten out of hand. Everything about our lives, including where we lived in June 2009, where we went to high school and what we ate for breakfast this morning (hello, happy Instagrammers) can be found on the internet. If you think that’s bad, think about children growing up today – their entire lives, from infancy through middle school, are being documented by their parents on Facebook!
Privacy just doesn’t exist online anymore. It’s time to take drastic measures: let’s delete ourselves from the internet and live happier, more personal lives!
Note: the steps below are not for the faint of heart or anyone overly attached to their Pinterest boards.
Step 1: Deactivate Primary Accounts
Begin by deleting the profiles you know exist, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Each service has an account settings page that offers to deactivate your account, though some will force you to call their customer support team to permanently delete your profile.
JustDelete.Me is a handy way to delete all your social accounts in one place.
Step 2: Search for Yourself
You’ve been using the internet for a while now. Can you imagine all the accounts you set up during that time? Search for yourself to find any long-lost profiles you used back in ’99, like that LiveJournal you spilled all your secrets into.
Step 3: Falsify Undeletable Accounts
Sometimes, figuring out how to deactivate an account is more trouble than it’s worth. When this is the case, falsify your account information. Create a new online life for your alter ego; you could become say, Hugo the 70-year-old acrobat from Biała, Poland.
Step 4: Unsubscribe from Mailing Lists
While deleting your online accounts you might as well make it so no email marketers can contact you, either. Every time you receive a newsletter, ad or promotion by email, click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
Step 5: Delete Search Engine Results
Now that you’ve done all that you can to remove yourself from the social Web, it’s time to work directly with search engines to remove results about you. If you find search engine results that divulge your personal information, contact the search provider and request that the results be removed.
Step 6: Contact Webmasters
For websites you have no control over, contact the webmaster directly and request that your information be removed. Note that this might take some time and some convincing – webmasters might argue with you that public information should remain public.
Step 7: Consider Data Clearinghouses
There are companies that track your online behavior and sell your information to marketers. If you are truly committed to deleting your online identity, you’ll likely have to make an insane amount of phone calls, fill out a ton of paperwork and use a fax machine to have these companies clear your information from their servers. Don’t have the time or patience to deal with the clearinghouses? Services like Delete Me will help keep your online information from the interwebz (for a fee).
Step 8: Check With Your Phone Company
Did you know that your phone number might be listed online? Call your provider and ask that you be unlisted.
Step 9: Delete Your Email
Deleting your email should be your final, most permanent step. Once your email is gone, the real world has no way to send you pictures of animals doing strangely cute things, forward you chain letters or share with you the latest comic on Reddit. Once you delete your email, there’s no going back to your former online identity!
So how about it: are you ready to delete your online self?