How to Remove Personal Information from the Internet

You connected to the internet. Chances are, you’re connected to the internet from more than one device. Reading this now, you’re probably on your phone or your laptop, while you’ve got a tablet in your room that’s connected, too. And with all those connections comes access to the world wide web. On all your devices, it’s likely that you’re logged into some app or account, having done so by handing over personal information. 

That personal information is public. What that means is that it’s available, in some form or another, to anyone who can connect to the internet from anywhere in the world. It’s a tough truth pill to swallow, but this is the reality that we live in today. There are some sacrifices that we’ve had to make while benefiting from the ease of connectivity and communication that the internet gives us. 


What Kinds of Personal Information are Available Online?

Think about it for a second. We conduct a lot of our lives via the internet – from shopping and entertainment, to applications and tax returns. This means that all the information that you’ve provided on all those accounts are on databases somewhere – databases that are connected to the web.

Your credit card information, banking details, Social Security numbers, PDF versions of certificates that you’ve submitted, photos, and so much more are online. With all this information of yours out there, the risks of being a victim of identity theft do exist. Even though the big data companies that you’ve given your information to have put measures in place to prevent data breaches, these breaches occur often through leaks and compromised security. The chances of being a victim of identity fraud are never zero. You know this, which is why you’re reading on to find out how to remove your personal information from the internet. 


How Do I Know If My Personal Information Has Been Compromised?

One of the best ways to find out if any information belonging to you has been compromised in a data breach is by making use of a popular service.

Check out HaveIBeenPwned. This service, run by a cybersecurity expert, lets you know if your personal information, or information relating to any of your accounts, has been compromised. If you suspect that data pertaining to you has been compromised, use the email address associated with that account to find out if your information is connected to any breaches. Even if you don’t suspect that this has happened, make a point of checking anyway. Since no organisation is immune from data breaches, it’s always good to know where you and your sensitive information stand. If you find that an email address connected to you has been involved in a data breach, make sure to change your passwords and follow through on any contingency plans you might have put in place.


How to Remove My Public Records from Google

Public records are exactly what they’re called – they’re public. This means that they’re publicly accessible, too. However, today, it’s way too easy for anyone to get their hands on public records about you. It used to be that you’d have to go to government offices and request them, but with people search sites (or people finder sites), things have changed. Now, all you’ve got to do is search for an individual’s public records by plugging in any bit of information you have about them, including their name and last name, email address, or phone numbers. This often gives you access to records about an individual like marriage documents, title deeds, criminal records, and even social media accounts linked to them.

So, how do you remove public records associated with you from showing on these sites and on Google? There are two ways to do so. You can manually contact each people search website and opt out from having your information show up on their database. This can be as easy as clicking a button or two, but it can often be a lot more complicated. There are services you can use to make your life easier, as some records removal platforms do this for you, removing your information from multiple websites. 


Turn Up Social Media Privacy Settings or Delete Your Accounts

If you’re looking to remove your personal information from the internet, an effective way to do this would be to just delete your social media accounts altogether. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example, allow you to request all the data they have about you from their archive. This will give you a good idea about exactly what information of yours they keep on their databases, including search histories, previously visited locations, and much more. 

The less information you provide to big data giants like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and others, the better. If you choose not to delete your accounts altogether, it would be in your best interest to turn your privacy settings all the way up so that none of your posts and information are public.  Facebook, for example, allows you to remove your Facebook profile from turning up in search engine results, making it more difficult for anyone searching for you to find out about your accounts. 


Remove Old Blogs

What gets posted on the internet is usually there forever in some way or another – even if we delete our posts. Still, there’s no point in making it easy for people to find your personal information. If you haven’t looked at or posted on that decade-old blog of yours, it would be better to delete it entirely. In some cases, you may have to contact webmasters directly to delete old messages or forum posts associated with your username.


Use a Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network, or VPN, masks your IP address so that data going between your browser and the server are encrypted. It also has other benefits, like giving you the ability to change your IP location. Paid VPN services are usually more effective.