How To Remove Personal Information From The Internet: Simple Guide

What happens when personal information winds up on the Internet that we had no intention of sharing with the world?

We all love posting things to Internet websites – Facebook, Google and Instagram are now part of our daily lives. Filling everyone in on what we’re doing – the family vacations we’ve taken or the job promotions we’ve worked so hard to achieve – is a daily ritual that makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger, something that exists beyond our own backyards.

But what happens when personal information winds up on the Internet that we had no intention of sharing with the world? Or what happens when you tweet something in anger or annoyance and immediately regret doing so, but someone has forwarded it and it’s gone viral? Or what if there is just some old, outdated personal information about you online? How do you remove personal information from the Internet without making yourself a little crazy in the process? How on earth do you deal with that? It can take a lot of time and energy, and create a whole lot of stress, to remove personal information from the Internet.  They say that the Internet’s memory is longer than an elephant’s, but in truth it’s even longer than that – it remembers even obscure and outdated information almost forever. However, with a little patience and a little diligence, you can learn how to remove personal information from the Internet.

At Reputation America, we are experts at retrieving and deleting information from all kinds of online sources, so let us help.

Here’s a Simple Guide With 8 Easy Steps For Removing Personal Information From The Internet:

1) Consider deleting all your shopping, social and web services accounts, at least temporarily. All you have to do is go to the “deactivate” settings in your accounts, and follow that lead.

2) Take yourself off of data collection sites. Certain sites, like whitepages.com, and lots of others, are in the business of collecting information on users’ habits and browsing histories. But be cautious here – this might remove you from Google searches that you want folks to be able to read. Do some research on the consequences of deleting yourself from these collection sites before you make a decision.

3) Delete your personal information from websites you belong to. For example: that dating site you joined six years ago – before you met your current love! — still has your personal information if you don’t do the work to disengage. Go back to the site just long enough to make it clear you are no longer on the market!

4) If a webmaster has some personal information like your Social Security number that could jeopardize your bank accounts and other private data – and they won’t remove it at your request —  you can get Google involved, legally. Legitimate sites like Google don’t want their users’ private information out there anymore than you do, and usually they comply with any reasonable request, particularly if it’s from a lawyer.

5) Remove data from old or outdated search engine results. For example: you noticed that your former employer still has your name listed on a roster of employees. Get in touch and make sure the personal information is updated; usually it’s an innocent mistake that can be corrected with one email or phone call. And speaking of email…

6) Consider getting a new email account, if you are bound and determined to shrink your “digital footprint.” This can be a nuisance for everyone in your life – friends, family, employers, etc., but sometimes it’s necessary. Just think long and hard before you make the switch, and be sure all your important contacts are aware of the move.

7) Use a “do not track” feature that’s available on many different software programs now. Doing this means browsers can’t “see” your online activity, which can be very reassuring in this day and age!

8) Take the time to thoroughly clear out your computer – all the cookies and even your browser history. It’s remarkable how much information your computer holds that you likely aren’t even aware of, so really go through the history carefully. And the next time you’re checking out a site online and you’re asked to “click here if you agree with our terms and conditions” policy, read it! It only takes a moment to browse through the policy, and if you are determined to stop folks from tracking you, don’t agree. Find a site that doesn’t use cookies, and stay away from the ones that do.

If you’re truly worried about how to remove personal information from the Internet, you can get in touch with the specialists here at Reputation America. We delete and scrub online content all the time, for all kinds of clients – it’s what we’re good at, and what we love. But usually you can manage it yourself, unless some nefarious individual has released personal information about you online and you need to know who, how and why. Then let us handle it for you; we love tough cases, and we don’t ask for a dime until the job is done.

But if it’s a matter of reducing the number of “eyes” who can see your online habits and browsing, you can do a lot of this yourself.  Same goes for personal information on the Internet that’s out of date or obsolete…like that dating profile we mentioned! It’s easy to take care of deleting details like those. But remember to give it a little time; it may have taken months, or even years for the Internet to collect all that personal information about you. It certainly isn’t going to give it up in the nanosecond it takes you to push one “delete” button. It may seem like a nuisance now, but if you are determined to reduce your online presence and control what’s “out there” about your habits and what’s on your profile, it’s an investment of time you have to make.

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