Erase Your Personal Information from the Internet for Free
Erase Your Personal Information from the Internet for Free
The Internet is a platform that stores the information of billions of people with widely varied interests, motives, and identities. With the world becoming increasingly digital and people utilizing and relying on the Internet for many daily tasks, cybercrime, and the misuse of personal information have also greatly increased. Bad actors have either functioned in groups or individually to gather private information of Internet users to use it for malicious intent.
Have you heard of the term called data brokers? Data brokers are persons engaged in exchanging data for personal profit. The data brokers do not ask for permission from users when gathering user information. They utilize sensitive private information for their own gain. Interestingly, sometimes updates are done on various Internet sites to delete the personal information. However, most people don’t realize that even though you delete the private data from the sites you visit, the deletion is often incomplete and some bit of information remains intact. That small bit of data works as a ray of light in a dark room, leaving behind a digital trail of your information.
Nevertheless, there are free and easy ways to erase your personal information from the Internet at no cost to you. Even if you can’t completely delete all your private information, you can at least take the right steps to delete as much as possible of it.
Personal information or personal data is nothing but insights about a person. It refers to the information that helps identify an individual. It includes a range of important data such as name, present or former address, date of birth, email address, phone number, and other vulnerable information.
Also called PII or Personally-Identifiable Information, this is very sensitive and unique. There are many characteristics of personal information. The following is a short list of these characteristics:
Social media advertisers work like a government agent who digs deeply for the buried data of social media users and then uses the data to promote their ads on the same platform. To help them find personal information, they use data brokers who source and aggregate the most private data to buyers. The data brokers assemble information from a range of online and offline sources such as social media, web search history, purchase history and warranty information, credit card information, government records (driver’s license and motor-vehicle records, census data, birth certificates, marriage licenses, voter-registration information, etc.). The social media advertisers may not be interested in all of these details. The data brokers sell the desired personal details to advertisers to use to promote and sell their products.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, WhatsApp, and Twitter, gather many personal details including your name, email address, and even your current location. Right from the pictures you post on your Facebook or Instagram account to the small changes you make to your personal data on the same sites, the social media advertisers monitor your activities. Based on your activities and information, the social media promoters send you customized ads and offers which often result in profit for them or their partnered companies. For customized marketing and advertising, they target your profile based on your public records.
Well, the responses to this question vary from one individual to another. Basically, a person often decides to delete their private data from the Internet primarily to ensure their information is secure and protected. If you decide to delete your personal data from the Internet without having to spend any money, you should get started right away! Make sure your private information remains private. The following are the top reasons why you might want to erase personal information from the Internet for free:
You open any website, for example, YouTube, and enter your search query, for instance- “Ed Sheeran songs”. When you leave the site and return to it later, you will be presented with a list of suggested Ed Sheeran songs which the site believes you’ll be interested in. That is how the whole Internet process of search, query, and suggestions work. Your interests are gathered first and then the series of sending suggestions based on your queries and interests begins. You have the power to control this. In addition to this, there are websites that store and sell your vital data to other companies. The whole process of deletion is time-consuming but effective. You need to be patient and diligent in your effort.
Below is the list of the ways to erase your personal information from the Internet at no cost:
1. Google yourself: Concerned about Twitter? Choose to delete all of your tweets instead of deleting an entire account. On each social media site, the provision of hiding personal details or completely deleting an account is different. Be patient, review the options and proceed to either delete the account or hide personal information.
2. Download DeleteMe: At DeleteMe, you will be protected and be able to regain your online privacy. They not only provide a full list of data brokers but also have an opt-out guide for each data broker website. DeleteMe promotes the do-it-yourself method. It does not ask for a single penny to perform the whole task. It proves to be really effective in deleting your private, vulnerable data from data broker websites.
3. Use incognito mode on your web browser: When you search on Google, it provides an idea of your personality, interests, and likes and dislikes to data brokers. However, if you shift to incognito mode, it will reduce the possibility of providing your personal details and interests to data brokers. When using incognito mode, the web page you are visiting does not save your browsing history, cookies and site data, or any other information.
4. Remove yourself from data broker sites: One of the effective ways to eradicate your personal details from the Internet is to remove yourself from data broker sites such as WhitePages, Spokeo, Intelius, and so on. You should use a “dummy” or “throwaway” email address to request for opt-out. For instance, on the WhitePages broker site you can use the following procedures:Enter your first and last name, city and state → go to Premium Results to find your listing → click “View Details” → verifying your address for accuracy → copy the URL for the listing, paste it into the site’s Opt-Out page, and click “Opt-out” → click “Remove me” on the confirmation page that pops up → select a reason for your removal request from the drop-down menu → click “Submit” → insert your telephone number →check the affirmation box → click “Call Now to Verify” → enter the four-digit code → Whitepages is processing your removal request. Additional primary and secondary data broker sites like Intelius and Spokeo accumulate information from public records along with other online social networking sources. Secondary data brokers, aggregate information from primary brokers and usually add data collected from these sources
5. Exercise Google’s legal powers: Google lends legal powers to its users to remove their sensitive data from any harassing or stubborn site. You can contact Google to ask for their help to ensure the safety of your private information.
6. Shut down your email accounts: Email accounts are the easiest targets of social media hackers. Some people use one single email account on various sites ranging from private matters, entertainment purposes to professional use such as applying for scholarships, business dealings, etc. This makes it easier for the data gatherers to find all your information. Therefore, you may want to deactivate any of your email accounts that have been targeted by data brokers. Then create different email accounts to log into different Internet sites. As a reminder, before deleting any of your email accounts, make sure you download all the important messages and attachments.
7. Remove yourself from outdated search results: If you are willing to erase your online data, removing outdated search results proves to be effective. It is interesting to note that even after repeated attempts of removing personal information from a website, your profile often still shows up in search results. In this case, the search engine could be referring to its own ‘cache’ of the page. Therefore, long after the site was edited, your name still appears on the site. A tool called “Remove outdated content” for Google, or the “Bing Content Removal Tool” can help with this issue.
8. Use a do-not-track feature: There are options in all web browsers which allow you to limit the of tracking sensitive data by third parties. You are ought to remain watchful of the limitations of your browser and its do-not-track feature. When browsing a website, a disclaimer regarding “cookies” usage pops up. “Cookies” are a technology that tracks your web browsing behavior. To avoid your private information being tracked and collected, consider either not allowing cookies or better yet, use security software that blocks online activity tracking.
9. Other Methods: Other methods include using a different name or registering with a temporary email on websites to protect your important personal email accounts. For instance, if you are using one email account for academic purposes, you can create a separate one for shopping or social media.
Contact CMIT Solutions of Carlsbad for your free dark web scan for your email addresses and website/domain. We’ll check if your information is for sale on the dark web, so you can then take the right steps to change and protect it!
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