The World Wide Web was invented to promote knowledge and understanding between different communities and transform the world into a ‘global village’. Apart from researchers, the ordinary public found a way to share information and communicate with their family, friends and acquaintances. The steady popularity of social media networks facilitated seamless connectivity but also generated problems for its users such as Online Harassment, Identity Theft, Internet Addiction and Online Social Anxiety, to name a few.
Moreover, government organisations and private corporations have also started to engage in due diligence of job applicants which involves screening of online accounts to identiy any ‘unfavourable‘ or ‘objectionable‘ observations, thereby directly influencing the outcome of employment selection. Reckless posts and tweets made in the past could lessen your chances of being considered for the post you applied for.
The inability to cope with these challenges compels many Internet and social media users to remove their digital footprints. Though it cannot be wiped off completely, there are processes through which your digital traces can be drastically reduced. Here’s how.
Step 1: Delete Social Media Accounts
The biggest giveaway for any individual online is their social media account, which more often than note provides a publicly-visible roundup of their activities/ online behaviours, thoughts and likes/ dislikes. Many people used to opt for “virtual identity suicide” through services such as Seppukoo and Web 2.0 Suicide Machine but the former is defunct and the latter’s capabilities have been vastly degraded due to pressure from Facebook. Moreover, it is always best that users delete their own traces instead of relying on scripts and bots to do the work for them.
- Click the downward arrow button on the top-right of any Facebook page.
- Click Settings and select Your Facebook Information in the left column.
- Select Deactivation and Deletion.
- Choose Delete Account followed by Continue to Account Deletion.
- Enter your existing password for confirmation then click Continue and Delete Account.
Facebook gives you the option to cancel permanent account deletion within 30 days but if you choose not to login, all held information and the account itself will be wiped permanently (irretrievable). Facebook says it will still retain some of your information for future legal and regulatory compliance issues in accordance with its Data Policy.
- Go to the Delete Your Account page through web/ desktop (not available through app).
- Choose one of the mentioned reasons next to the drop-down menu next to Why are you deleting your account? and re-enter your current password for confirmation.
- Select Permanently delete my account for processing.
- Login to your Twitter account on web/ desktop (won’t work in the app).
- Click on your profile photo and choose Settings.
- Select Settings and Privacy then click on Deactivate my account.
- Select Deactivate @username (your username appearing) and then re-enter your current Twitter password for confirmation.
Your account will be permanently deleted within 30 days.
- Login to your account and click on Settings & Privacy from the top-right.
- Select Account, scroll down and choose Closing your Linkedin account.
- Once you’ve selected your reason for deletion, click on Continue to confirm the process.
- LinkedIn will ask you once again to confirm the account you wish to delete. Click on Verify Account when done.
- LinkedIn will ask you for the second and last time to confirm deletion. Choose Close Account.
- Go to the Snapchat website (won’t work in the app).
- Click on Support under Community at the end of the page.
- Select My Account & Security from the list of options to your right.
- Choose Account Information.
- Click on Delete My Account.
- After you’ve read the on-screen information, follow the link to the Accounts Portal.
- Enter your current username and password once.
- Enter your current username and password again (for confirmation) then click Continue.
If you don’t login to Snapchat within 30 days, your account will be permanently deleted.
- Open the TikTok app and click on the icon of a person with label Me written on it.
- Tap on the three-dots menu on the top-right corner of your screen.
- Choose Manage My Account on top of the menu.
- Scroll down and select Delete Account (if you created an account through Twitter or Facebook login, sign-in to that service to receive confirmation).
- When you see the confirmation message, click on the red-coloured Delete Account button.
Your account will be deleted within 30 days.
Step 2: Remove Mentions in Search Engines
Even if you delete your social media accounts, chances are that other blogs or cached copies of your ghost accounts are available for people to identify. Here’s how you can ensure your data is taken-down by prominent search engines.
- If your information is no longer on any concerned website or social media account but still appears in Google search results, click here to file a request to remove outdated content.
- To submit a Legal Request for content removal, click here.
- To use a one-stop portal for content removal from various Google Services including Web Search, click here.
You’ll need to be signed-in through your Google account to process the above requests.
- To remove outdated cached content, go to Bing Content Removal and sign-in with your account for Bing Webmaster Tools (previously called Windows Live ID).
- In Content URL, enter the exact URL you found in Bing search results.
- In the Removal Type drop-down menu, choose Outdated Cache Removal.
- In the Cached Page Text, enter the text which still appears on the cached page.
- Select Submit.
Step 3: Remove Public Records in People Directories
Almost all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) belonging to individuals with any sort of online presence is mapped and stored for access and sale by public records directories or ‘people search engines’. They offer a single-point of access to every unique individual’s social media and online presence including biodata. To remove your information from prominent people search engines, follow the steps below.
- Lookup your exact listing on Spokeo’s website.
- Copy the URL of your profile.
- Go to their Opt-Out Website and paste the URL of your listing.
- Enter an email for confirmation and perform the CAPTCHA.
- Click the verification link sent to your given email address.
- Visit the final confirmation page.
- Visit MyLife website and choose Join Now.
- Enter a name and provide an email address for further correspondence.
- Search for your exact listing through the search bar and click on your profile.
- Copy the URL of your profile.
- Send a content removal request through email alongwith your URL to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After confirmation, your information will be removed within 10 business days.
- Go to the Radaris website and lookup your exact listing.
- Choose Full Profile next to your result.
- Roll over the arrow adjacent to Background Check & Contact Info.
- Click Control Info or Manage Info (whichever appears).
- Create an account and perform the CAPTCHA.
- Claim your identity by entering your cell number and verification code.
- Enter the verification code then click Submit.
- Click View “My Account”.
- Select Delete Specific Records through optional ticks (you can only delete 6 records).
- Go back to your account by clicking on Back to (your name)’s page.
- Repeat the steps and then choose make profile private.
- Go to the Whitepages website and type your name and city in the search box.
- Find your exact listing and select View Details.
- Copy the URL of your page.
- Visit the Whitepages Opt-Out Page and paste the URL to your listing.
- When you see the confirmation message, select the Remove me button.
- Enter a reason for removal and then click Submit.
- Provide a phone number to receive a verification code on the next page. Ensure you’ve checked the option Call now to verify.
- In the next screen, you’ll be shown a verification code. Dial that carefully while on call.
Your profile will be removed within 24 hours.
- Go to the Intelius Opt-Our Website and lookup your listing.
- Choose Select and continue.
- Provide an email address for verification and perform the CAPTCHA, then click Continue.
- Check your email then click on the verification link.
- You will be shown confirmation messages along with a unique reference number (store it).
You will receive a final confirmation email of removal within 72 hours.
- Visit the BeenVerified Opt-Out Website and lookup for your exact listing.
- Click on the arrow to the right of your listing.
- Provide an email address for verification and perform the CAPTCHA.
- Select Verify Opt-Out at the bottom of the confirmation email.
Your details will be removed within 24 hours.
We hope this guide helped you! Feel free to request removal guides for any other platforms you wish to know in the comments below and we’ll try our best to update this piece!