While completely erasing oneself from the internet is nearly impossible, there are methods to minimize one’s online presence and secure personal data. The article by John Bogna outlines the “how” and “why” of scrubbing yourself from the internet, from understanding the risks of leaving sensitive information online to taking practical steps to protect and minimize personal data. Steps include opting out of data collection from data brokers, cleaning old accounts, using privacy-focused apps and services, and adopting common sense best practices. Despite the challenges, these actions can make individuals less vulnerable to data theft and maintain a degree of privacy in the online world.
- Opting Out of Data Collection: The article emphasizes that data brokers often sell personal information, but users can opt out of some of this collection, especially with laws like GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, reducing one’s digital footprint.
- Digital Spring Cleaning: Deleting or cleaning old social media accounts, emails, and adjusting privacy settings can significantly reduce available personal information online. This includes searching for oneself on Google and requesting removal or updates to certain results.
- Utilizing Technology for Privacy: Using privacy browsers, search engines, encrypted messaging services, virtual private networks (VPNs), and other tools can protect data and anonymize a person’s online presence.
- Personal Responsibility and Best Practices: The article stresses using unique passwords, being careful with what is shared online, limiting apps’ access to personal data, and communicating with friends and family about your privacy preferences.
- Acknowledgement of the Challenge: While the methods above can substantially reduce one’s online footprint, the article recognizes that it’s nearly impossible to completely remove oneself from the internet due to the pervasive nature of online presence in modern society.