You must be concerned about your digital footprint if you’re reading this. Once online, always online, right? Maybe not. While it’s true that you can’t completely get rid of everything, there are ways to minimize the potential damage.
Keep in mind that getting rid of your data from the internet can have a negative impact on communication with potential employers. You can use screening to your advantage. For more tips on purging online data, you can visit https://unmask.com/, a rich screening resource.
First Step: Find out What’s out There
Use a background check service or do a Google search on your name to see if anything that bothers you comes up. There are sites specializing in data collection called data brokers, such as People Finder or Whitepages.com. They gather personal data and sell it, usually to target advertising at you. Employers and landlords sometimes use these sites to run background checks on potential hires/tenants.
Contact the Sites
You could contact the site which has published information about you and ask them to take it down. If a lot of sites have published info, you might be better off using a service that will take all this responsibility off your hands. This could be a good idea as, in some cases, the site will ask you to fill out forms and send them in by fax. What’s more, you’ll need to check if the information has resurfaced a few months later.
Removing your data from these brokers will make you harder to find as you won’t appear in a Google search.
Deactivate or Delete Social Network and Shopping Accounts
Most people have a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram account. Some have Twitter, Tumblr, even the long-gone MySpace, and Google+. Shopping sites like Macys, Gap, and Amazon are common to have accounts on. You might also have a Reddit account that will show up. There are services which can make getting rid of these accounts easier.
It’s not mandatory to use them, though. Go to the sites you don’t use anymore and look for an option to close, remove, or deactivate your account. These options are usually under Privacy or Security, depending on the account. If you can’t delete your account, change the data to something random or fake.
How to Get rid of Outdated Results
Maybe you wrote a blog post or article a few years ago that you’re not too proud of now, or you keep appearing on your previous employer’s staff page. You’ve contacted the site, and they’ve agreed to update it, but the page still shows up in the search when you google your name. When you click on the link, you don’t see your name. This means Google’s cached the old page version on its servers.
You can only hope the search giant will update its servers and eliminate the cached result. Send Google the URL. Eventually, you’ll stop being associated with the site.
If someone’s posted your bank account number, Social Security number, or other sensitive information and the site won’t respond to your request to have it deleted, you can approach Google about the issue. To do so, you need to submit a legal request. It might take a while, but it’s the best approach in this delicate situation.
Eliminate Email Accounts
You need to sign in and then choose to close or delete the account. The respective steps vary depending on the account type. Sometimes, an account will stay open for a while in case someone decides to reactivate it. To complete the steps, you need an email address.
Don’t Give Up
Nobody said deleting your online footprint was easy, but the effort is definitely worth it. Once you purge your data, your worries will cease.