The adage “the internet never forgets” is all too real to ignore. Therefore, leaning how to delete your digital footprint is just as important. The text and images that you upload online have the power to uplift or crush you in equal measures. And while most people live with the fear that their travails in the online realm may come to haunt them in future, especially if the wanderlust is not so adorable, it is possible to still erase almost everything you have ever posted.
Do note, however, that while the process is possible, it takes time since remembering every little thing you have done in this space is cumbersome. That notwithstanding, the following steps will get you close, if they will not give you a clean bill of health.
1. Automatically Track and Eliminate Your Online Accounts
It is common for websites to compel you to register when you want to use their services. Since you are a lot likely to underestimate the number of services you have signed up for, the best place to start, as such, is Deseat.me. This service can summon almost all services you have signed up for using a particular email address.
The beauty of this service is that you only need to input your email address. Not only will Deseat.me show you the services you have subscribed to, it will also highlight the steps you need to do to wipe your footprint on all these websites.
A small glitch, though, this service is only effective if you registered for website services using either Google mail or Outlook.
On the Deseat.me homepage is a “Get Started” button. To wipe your online trail, click on it and provide your email account. Also, allow the service to access your emails as that is the only way it can get to work. This demand should not worry you, however, since Deseat.me will delete itself from your profile in the end; leaving no trace of you ever using the service.
2. Track Online Accounts and Delete Them Manually
If you are unlucky to have registered for any website services using other email addresses, then you are pretty much in a dark spot. Still, you are on the right track if you can try and remember most or all these services and delete the accounts you created in these websites.
This process may be taxing. However, if you start by checking your email, you can identify almost every website you have signed to since almost every website sends a Fireburner confirmation email back into your inbox.
Individuals that cannot stand unrequired emails in their inboxes may have a hard time going manual. However, services such as justdelete.me and AccountKiller have lists of the popular sites. Also, they provide links that guide you on how to delete your accounts from the listed websites.
The lists provided by the two services above are very essential. Going through them may help jog your memory and help you identify a good number of them that you may have registered on.
3. Hunt Down for Your Information
Often, undertaking the two processes highlighted above will help you eliminate the bulk of your footprint online. However, scrapping much or all of the information you find using the first two processes almost always does not leave you on the green.
As such, you should include Google in your quest to eliminate all manner of information you may still have online.
A Google search is very effective. To have a successful search, input your name in the search box with quotes around it. Doing so will force the search engine to search and relay every page that contains your name as is.
Repeat the same process using your email address, phone number, and any contact name that you use.
In most instances, you will unearth random pages that contain your name, job, current city, email address, and even the university or institutions where you studied. You must admit that this is a bit much information to search through effectively.
Remember to rope in other people search engines as they can be a goldmine of information about you. You will be surprised that you can come across information about you that is tucked deep in the dark web.
4. Delete Forum Comments and Unsubscribe from any Mailing Lists
If you are a member of any discussion forum then chances are the discussions you have contributed to are still online, and these may bear your name. You have the option of deleting the comments, if the forum’s settings allow, or you can request the moderator to take your contributions down on your behalf.
You can search for your comments on forums using the same method highlighted above; inputting your name encased in quotation marks.
Do note that most sites prefer to retain their content. The contributions you make are content for the various discussion forums. When asking for them to be deleted, as such, ensure you have a convincing reason which will leave the forum moderator convinced.
When unsubscribing from websites that you have registered an account on, do understand that the manual method is always an option. However, the web has some very effective services that can help you accomplish the same. Unroll.me, for instance, can be very helpful.
When you register on Unroll.me with your email, the service will give you the option of “editing your subscriptions.” From the list available, just click on “Unsubscribe” next to every service.
These measures will help you take out almost all online content related to you. However, there is still a lot you can do to ensure you are entirely safe. Do ensure you delete your email account and the cookies on the devices you use.
Lastly, check on the archived material. The Wayback Machine, an online content archiving tool has material from archived website pages.
If you have any indexed material that has since been archived, contact the Wayback Machine’s team and ask them to take such down.
Deleting the information you put online can be quite tasking, especially if you are an avid user of the internet. However, if you use the pointers on this guide on how to delete your digital footprint, then you already are on the right track.