It’s common today for the sites we visit to track our online activity. The things we post on social media, what we watch on YouTube and so much more are recorded and used for advertising purposes and understanding consumer behavior.
But what if you want to totally erase your digital footprint?
Take these steps in order to ensure your online image and activity are protected.
One of the first steps you can take is to search your own name, as well as old usernames you may have used, on search engines.
This may turn up old profiles on websites and social media platforms that are no longer relevant - yet the information about you is still there and available for anyone to see. When you find an old profile of yours, consider deactivating it to remove the lingering information from the web by logging into the account.
While not a perfect solution, deleting unused profiles like this can help protect against security breaches and generally reduces the number of ways your information can be accessed online.
Remove Yourself From Data Collection Sites
There are websites that collect information on you based on all of your interactions online. They collect your data and sell it to outside parties that want to advertise to you and sell you stuff. You can remove yourself from these sites manually and through a service like Delete Me. Although the second option may be costly, manually removing yourself from these sites can be a long process and requires you to, in some cases, fill out forms.
Use a Separate Email Address
To truly separate your online persona from any contact information, create a new email address for your online accounts. Make the email different from your actual email address and use it for all social media and new online accounts to keep things separated. Another simple step is to deactivate all old emails to further remove yourself from the internet.
Use Private Browsing
While it won’t undo bad browsing habits you already have, private browsing using features like Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode or FireFox’s Private Window can keep the websites you visit from collecting information about you.
Disabling cookies on your browser will also lessen the chances of your personal information being stored on websites. This can most simply be done in your browser’s settings.
Delete Shopping Accounts
If you have accounts on any online shopping services that you no longer use - like eBay, Amazon or others - consider deleting them to remove sensitive information about yourself from the internet.
This information is not publicly available, but sites and accounts like these can be hacked and it’s better not to have them if you aren’t active consumers on the sites.
Deleting your digital footprint isn’t always easy, but with the right steps and careful attention, you can reduce how much information is publicly available about you online.