4 Easy Ways to Erase Your Online Identity
It's shocking the amount of information that is online about each and every one of us. A few years ago, it was fun to get on Google to see how much information there was about me. Of course, most of that information was from SEO information about my company Integral, social media posts or from the many TV segments I've appeared on. Now, a Google search will turn up personal information on me and the rest of you too and that's a pretty big problem. If you're like me and you want to take control of your privacy and online data, here are some tips to get you started
Data is king in our digital world and it turns out many large companies have been collecting and selling our data for years. Sometimes that's not too bad of a thing when Amazon knows what we like to purchase and makes suggestions of compatible products, but when you have the general public, ex romantic partners, online bullies and abusers getting a hold of your private information, it becomes a major problem. If you want to be a little more incognito online, here's what you need to do:
1. Google knows everything, but it can help you take control. Google knows a lot about you, but you can use the search engine to find out what information of yours is in the public domain. This is important because it can also show what information the average joe or jane can find out about you. Do a quick Google search on yourself and find out what information is being shared. Start the removal process from Google by visiting this link https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/9685456 Keep in mind Google can only remove so much about you from the web. For information about you that is being shared on specific web sites and blogs, you will have to contact the owner of the web site to get your information removed.
2. Make Yourself Invisible. Strangers can get quite a bit of information from you on social media and if you're worried about people spying on you, you might be tempted to delete your accounts. One of the quick ways you can keep hidden on social media is to change your name to something else. This will work for a while as many social media platforms frown on this and it's against the terms of service. Instead, you should keep your accounts private so they can only be viewed by people you 'friend'. Here's how to do that for each social media platform:
To change your privacy, open Twitter on a web browser. On the left navigation, click More > Settings and privacy. On the main pane, click Privacy and safety. Twitter protect your tweets
Beneath the Tweets section, click Protect your Tweets. A confirmation box will pop up, so click Protect. This only protects your tweets. An extra step is needed to protect your entire account. Go to your profile and click Edit Profile to customize the visibility or the information contained within most of these elements.
Unfortunately for Facebook, people can always find your Facebook profile unless you've blocked them. There are several steps to keep your account safe. Open Facebook in a web browser and click the dropdown arrow and then click Settings. Next, click Privacy from the left-hand navigation. From here, you can customize the visibility of your profile. Only Me and Friends of Friends are the two most secure settings. The most secure way to protect yourself on Facebook would be an alias. Again, this violates the Terms of Service so I will leave that up to you if you decide to do it. It also helps if you use a profile picture that isn't of you.
Your account can be seen by the public unless you set your account to private. To set your account private, go to your Instagram profile and tap the menu icon (three horizontal lines)
Tap Settings, then tap Privacy > Account Privacy then Slide Private account on. As with Facebook, you want to change your profile picture and consider using an alias to keep safe.
Fortunately, Linkedin has privacy settings that you can turn on to keep your account secure. From a browser, click on the ME option from the Linkedin menu, then click on Privacy Controls heading. From there, you can change others can see when they view your profile.
3. Find out if you've been 'pwned'. Data breaches are one of the ways your information makes it out in the public domain and www.haveibeenpwned.com is a great way to find out if your data has been leaked. Visit the website and enter your email address. If you've been 'pwned' it's a good chance that your information is floating on the dark web. If this is the case, move on to step 4 ...
4. Pay to Have Your information Removed. There are several services that have popped up in recent years that allow you to keep your information safe from data brokers. Services like Delete.me https://joindeleteme.com/ will keep your information off all of the web sites where the public can find information about you. You can also use Unroll.me to kill those web-based subscriptions that you were automatically signed up for.
It's not an easy process to keep your information private, but if you follow the above steps you can start to keep your data off the Internet.
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