Here Are The Steps You Need To Take To Disappear From the Internet
by Matthew Gilligan
There’s no doubt about it, things are getting kind of…creepy out there when it comes to identity theft, fraud, privacy, and our digital footprints.
And if you’ve been itching to erase your activity from the Internet’s memory, it’s suggested that you follow these steps.
Take a look and see if you want to do this for yourself.
Data broker websites.
This is a big one.
Your information has likely been sold to third parties by data brokers if you’ve bought things online, scanned QR codes, or given out your email address.
But every data broker has an option to opt-out, so you can Google your name to see which websites it shows up on and then you can go to each individual site and follow its directions about how to have your name removed from there.
It’s also suggested that you visit sites such as Whitepages, Intelius, TruthFinder, Instant Checkmate, and PeopleFinders to see what information they have on you, as well.
Get rid of old email accounts.
If you’ve ever gotten an email from a friend’s email account from 15 years ago that you didn’t even know existed anymore, then this one should ring a bell.
Because hackers can get into old email accounts that aren’t being used and there is a ton of personal information in there for them to sort through and they can use those accounts to phish for more information.
A word to the wise, delete your old email accounts as soon as you’re done with them.
People have a tendency to get lazy when it comes to passwords and some folks use the same ones over and over again for different websites and apps.
Don’t do that!
You should use a password manager to create strong passwords for your different log-ins and it’s smart to take advantage of Apple’s passkey feature.
Time to log out.
For the love of God, log out of the sites as you go and, better yet, go through your browser and check to see what sites you’re still logged into so you can log out of those, too.
Also, if you’ve used Facebook or Google to log into any apps, make sure you revoke that access because that’s another way to protect your personal info.
You can utilize Google and Apple to delete your entire history, your email account, and any private data that is stored.
But be careful…
Lisa Plaggemier, chief strategist at MediaPro.says, “Tread lightly, though, as these actions will be permanent and have potentially undesirable consequences. Deleting your entire email history and account could make it more difficult to communicate with family and friends. Deleting search histories could make it more cumbersome to do future internet searches.”
This is probably a no-go for some people, but if you really want to disappear from the Internet, then that means NO MORE APPS.
Apps are used to sell your info to third parties and the only way to avoid this is to delete all your current apps and not download any new ones.
If you have an Android, turn off location services and if you’re an iPhone user, turn off location tracking.
Also, Facebook still has the Nearby Friends tool, so double-check and make sure that you’ve turned that off, as well.
No more cookies!
Oh, boy, here come the cookies…
If you do any browsing online at all, you’ve noticed the cookies alert over and over again…and it’s because little bits of info about where you’ve been online will be leaked when you allow cookies to be utilized.
The best thing to do is delete your full browsing history. After you’ve done this, check for the setting of “Cookies and other site data” in Chrome’s “Privacy and Security” setting.
No more social media.
That’s right…no more social media. Hey, you said you really wanted to disappear, right?
Well, you’ll have to log out of your social media accounts and request to permanently delete your accounts. It might take a few weeks after you do this for your search results to be removed from Google.
I think we probably all need to do a little more unsubscribing these days…
And if you get a bunch of emails about Amazon deals and you subscribe to online newspapers and newsletters, you’re going to want to unsubscribe from all of them.
Block ’em all.
It’s in your best interest to install ad blockers if you’re looking to maintain a low profile.
Those pop-up ads can create all kinds of privacy headaches in addition to just being annoying. So do your research and pick an ad blocker that’s best for your browser. It’ll be worth it.
Gotta do it.
Here’s a good tip: run antivirus software on your computer on a regular basis.
Viruses and malware can end up on your computer when you download things and this can be used to obtain your personal information.
Bitdefender, Norton, McAfee, and Trend Micro are all recommended for antivirus software.
Privacy is important.
If you want to disappear, you’re going to have to stop using Google…it’s just the way it is.
Instead, you’ll have to use special browsers that are designed to keep your search data private. Brave and Duck Duck Go are two that come highly recommended if you want to remain anonymous.
A virtual private network (VPN) is crucial to privacy and it’ll keep not only Google and other entities from seeing your history, but also your Internet provider, as well.
Jo O’Reilly, deputy editor at digital privacy site ProPrivacy. says, “A VPN encrypts all the data coming and going from your devices so that it is scrambled as it passes through the ISP servers. This completely removes the ability of the ISP to know which websites you are visiting.”
Some of the best-known are Astril VPN, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN.
Check the public records.
This one takes a bit of time, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re address is removed from public records.
You’ll need to get a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency address and change over everything to this address, including bills, bank accounts, and your driver’s license.
After that, your financial accounts will report the change to the three main credit-reporting companies and after a few months you’ll have to dispute your home address with those agencies and it will eventually be removed from the public record.
Unwanted info and pages.
Google has made it relatively easy to remove personal information from its searches, so you’ll have to do that, but you’ll also want to get in touch with the authors of pages where you might happen to find personal info to get personal info removed permanently.
If you can’t find the author of a page, you can always use the “Contact Us” option.
Going old school.
The Wayback Machine is an amazing tool for research, but you might discover that there are some things on there you want removed from the archives of the Internet forever.
If you want information removed from defunct web pages, get in touch with the folks at the Wayback Machine at email@example.com and ask them to take it off.
The offline life.
Just so you know, living a life completely offline can be done but it takes a lot of work and you’ll be giving up a ton of modern conveniences.
But, as the saying goes, to each their own!
That’s all, folks! Good luck out there!