Hi Lifehacker, I participated in many online forums in the past, plus Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Youtube; you get the idea. Having recently become a respectable teacher, I’m becoming more aware of my digital footprints, and how anyone in the world can search for it and track my online activities. I feel really vulnerable right now. I’d love to know how, if possible, I can control and remove traces of my digital footprints from the internet and Google searches.
I’ve decided to go cold turkey on social media at least, but I’d really love to remove my digital past from the web. Is my wish even remotely possible? Please help! Thanks, jenlyl
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Most of us have multiple social media and online forum accounts, some of which have been long forgotten from our youths. Trouble is, it’s now the norm for employers to check out job candidates online which can potentially damage your chances of landing the position you wanted.
There’s no magical “kill all” button to shut down all the online accounts you have accumulated in your digital lifetime but there are ways to turn them off manually. It can be a time consuming process but if you’re committed to disappearing off the internet, then it’s worth it.
The first step to purging your digital footprint is to deactivate the accounts you know about. That would include the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and Google Plus accounts. Nearly every social media service and online forum pages have an option to deactivate your profile. You will need to navigate to your account settings page and where the option is will depend on the service or website you’re dealing with.
If you’re dissatisfied with not being able to fully delete your primary accounts (deactivation doesn’t delete your details), you can just take out all the personal information that you put in when you started your profile. If the website or service doesn’t allow you to leave fields blank then simply falsify the information.
Now that you’ve sorted out the accounts you know about, it’s time to track down the profiles you set up in the past that you have forgotten about. The easiest way to do this is by Googling yourself. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find, like that account you created on an obscure online forum once back in the late ’90s just so you could post one or two comments on. Either way, repeat the process listed above to get rid of those accounts too. If you’re having trouble finding the “delete” or “deactivate” options, contact the webmasters and let them know you want to be removed from the forums.
As for your concern about appearing on Google search results, you can request for Google to delete results that return information about you. You will need to log into your Google account first (provided you haven’t deleted it yet).
Hope this helps!
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