Easy Guide: How to Remove Your Address from the Internet
We almost without hesitation trust the internet with our thoughts and feelings, upload photos and videos, save bank card numbers, and add products to our favorites. All this is user data. It is important to know that they can be stolen — and they are traded.
Every year there are more than a thousand data leaks in the world and information about tens and even hundreds of millions of users gets into the network. But the amount of data that the apps and services we are familiar with collect and sell are probably even greater.
Completely disappearing from the internet will not work. But there are ways to help reduce the amount of personal information on the internet.
How to disappear from the internet? Read more here.
How to remove your address from the internet
#1 Update information about yourself in the search results
Ordinary users are unable to significantly influence how Google or Bing search results look like. But they can make it so that it is up-to-date and does not contain links to pages with illegally posted information.
For example, if the content on any site has been significantly changed, but it does not appear in the output in any way, it is worth reporting to Google through the form. Then the company will update the search results and remove outdated versions of pages from it.
Sometimes you need to delete information that can harm the user. For example, explicit photos or videos published without his consent, medical, bank or passport data. In this case, it is enough to send a simple request to delete the data.
Here we are talking about removing links from search results, not the materials themselves. In addition, the services often refuse applicants because they do not consider their justifications sufficient. That is, if some company wants to hide links to pages with negative reviews, then its requirements will most likely not satisfy.
#2 Delete old accounts on all resources
There is no easy way to delete all accounts that you no longer use at once. But if you really want to reduce the amount of personal information on the internet, you will have to take the time to get rid of them.
To begin with, try to remember all the resources where you once registered, and make a list of them so that you don’t forget anything. Now you have to manually delete each account. At this stage, the Just Delete Me website may be useful — there are instructions on how to cancel an account on popular resource like Vimeo.
To begin with, it’s worth checking the password manager, browser history and messages in the mail — perhaps there are traces of old accounts left there. It is also useful to find out if your data has got into the internet. To do this, use the Have I Been Pwned? service. It analyzes information about leaks and hacks and reports if data has been stolen.
Another way to remember long-forgotten accounts is Google. Enter your name and, for example, email or place of residence in the search bar. This way you will find old messages on the forums. Most likely, you will not be able to delete them yourself, you will need to contact the administrators. If the contacts of the responsible people are not saved on the site, try searching for them via Who.is. This service collects information about web resources, their status and their owners.
Be prepared for the fact that not all accounts will be deleted. This, for example, applies to accounts in EdX, Pinterest or Roblox. In this case, anonymization is the best way out. Delete from the profile the saved data about bank cards, delivery addresses, old notes and tasks, date of birth — all personal data.
Now come up with a fake first and last name, replace the real address with one created in an anonymous mail service like Mailinator. Now, even if the database with information from your account is merged into the Network, it will not harm you in any way.
Avoid apps that promise to automatically search for and delete old accounts. It is often unclear what they do with personal data. For example, the Unroll.Me service unsubscribed users from mailings and at the same time collected the personal data of these people, and the Slice company that owns it then sold this information. In particular, Uber used its services to learn more about the business of its competitor Lyft.
#3 Erase your digital footprint
If you don’t want to delete old accounts, you should at least erase the unnecessary data that you store online. Twitter doesn’t have a special function to delete all old tweets at once. But this can be done by services such as TweetDeleter and TweetDelete. Keep in mind that they erase only a few messages for free. If you need to delete several tens or hundreds of tweets, it makes sense to buy a subscription for a month and then cancel it. For TweetDeleter, for example, it costs $5.99. It is also worth remembering that any third-party services can access the personal data that you have specified in your account.
Google does not index individual Facebook posts, so they will not appear in the search results. But if you want to “disappear” from the Internet, you should close access to old publications or delete them. You can do this through the “Settings.” The built-in service is not the most convenient, and you will need time to clean the tape. But they haven’t come up with a better solution yet.
#4 Prohibit information brokers from collecting data about you
Alphabet (Google’s parent company) earned more than $200 billion in advertising in 2021 — 80% of the corporation’s total revenue. The situation is similar for technology platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook.
Their success is due to the fact that companies have access to a large amount of user data. Thanks to this, they can show brand marketing messages to the most relevant audience. But not only social networks make money on personal information.
Among the most well-known such firms are Acxiom, Equifax, Oracle and Epsilon. According to official statistics, there are more than 200 of them in the USA.
Users themselves usually do not know that information brokers collect information about them. And although these companies sell data in large collections and do not report the names of consumers, it is often possible to identify the “victims” in a few minutes.
In 2020, NRK journalists acquired a database from the Tamoco British firm, which contained information about the movements of 140 thousand Norwegian residents, as well as their mobile phone numbers. Using this information, it was possible to find out where the owner of the smartphone works and lives, which stores he goes to and how often he visits hospitals. NRK journalists experimentally identified one of those who got into the base. He was very surprised when they called him from the editorial office and told him in detail about all his movements on a particular day.
It is possible to reduce the likelihood of such situations if you revoke permission from information brokers to collect and process personal data. To do this, you need to contact each organization, confirm your identity and fill out a special form.
#5 Don’t try to do everything yourself
It is not always easy to delete information about yourself. In some cases, you will have to make out a lot of applications and fill out a bunch of different forms. If your case is complicated, especially if it is about explicit content or defamation, consult a lawyer. This will help to deal with the problem faster.
Although we wrote above that you should be careful to use specialized services that help erase data about yourself from the internet, some of them are quite useful. For example, DeleteMe deletes information from data broker databases. Jumbo warns about leaks of personal information of the client and can automatically delete posts on social networks a few days after publication. The main thing is if you decide to install one of them, carefully study the confidentiality agreement. This way, you will know exactly what data such services collect about you and why.
Don’t want to enter your personal data to the internet? Use Utopia P2P — an anonymous and decentralized ecosystem with tools for messaging, file sharing, browsing, etc.