How to Erase Yourself from the Internet
It seems like everyone wants to be online today, but what if you are applying for your first job post-graduation and your social media accounts are riddled with pictures of your keg-stand-doing, toga-wearing college party days? What if you are starting a new business and want to start fresh with a new online identity? There are many reasons people want to wipe their online slate clean, and these tips will show you how to do it.
Delete Your Accounts
The first step to erasing your online presence is to delete as many accounts as you can. The Internet unfortunately has a far better memory than you, so you may have to wrack your brain to remember all the sites you signed up for since you started going online. Start with the more common and popular sites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, StumbleUpon, MySpace, PayPal, eBay and Craig’s List, then do a search of your frequently used screen names to reveal more accounts you may have forgotten. The steps for deleting your accounts at each of these sites are different, but you should at the very least be able to stop someone from searching for your profiles.
Remove Your Information
Some sites won’t allow you to completely delete your account, forcing you instead to “deactivate.” Users won’t be able to search for you, but your information will stay in the system. If you cannot get one of the site’s owners or engineers to intervene on your behalf, start the process of removing every bit of information you can from the account. If you have to leave certain fields filled-in, use fake or very general information (you can be John Smith).
You’ll have to keep an active email account to confirm your information, so create a new one for free. Use an unlikely username and sign up with fake information. After you confirm your new address, your old address should no longer be associated with the account.
Close Personal Sites
Completely remove any sites you have created on the Internet. Delete your blog and contact any sites that still post snippets of it to request a take-down. Do your best to delete forum posts, asking for help from an administrator if need be.
Check Your Phone Listing
Finally, check with your phone company to eliminate your online listing and any personal details. By following these steps, you should be able to erase yourself from the Internet as much as possible.