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How to delete yourself from the internet

How to delete yourself from the internet

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You can’t fully scrub yourself from the internet. A little bit of you will always linger, whether it’s in data-broker databases, on old social media you forgot about or in the back of someone else’s vacation photos on Flickr.

That’s no reason to give up! You can absolutely take steps to protect your privacy by cleaning up things like your Google results. For the best results you’ll need time, money, patience, and to live in a country or state with strong privacy laws.

This week’s Ask Help Desk question is all about the data brokers: “How do I get my information deleted from data aggregators?” asks Jennifer Swindell, from Sagle, Idaho. But first, we’re going to take a step back and start with something a little more public.

Checklist: What to do if you’re being harassed online

Google is what most people think of when they worry about their data online. The search engine is the largest index of websites, but it’s often just the messenger. Know that anything you manage to remove from a search result will likely still live on the site hosting it unless you also get them to take it down. You’ll want to ask those sites to remove it as well.

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First, Google yourself. Keep a list of where your information is popping up and specifically look for anything personal, like your address or phone number, any kind of identification details (driver’s license number) or other information you find inappropriate. Combine your name with your address or phone number in the search field.

Google recently added a form where you can request it take down certain results or information, including explicit photos if they are fake, posted without your consent, or just randomly showing up for your name and don’t depict you. There’s an…

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