How can you erase your digital footprint?
When people look for information, the first thing they visit is the internet. The internet collects everything people upload online, whether these are news or personal information. But websites can also give people access to information about us that we do not want shared, information like embarrassing posts and photos, errors about our personal information, private comments and messages and others.
The mistakes we leave online can generate the wrong information about us, and because of that, we need to keep our digital life under control. But what can we do to erase the unwanted things we put online?
Ways of controlling existing profiles
One way to manage our digital footprint is to control our existing profiles. This includes deleting unwanted posts, controlling our privacy settings and securing our public identities.
- Deleting unwanted posts
Manually searching and deleting posts, comments, status updates, and profiles is a sure way to erase damaging digital information. Log into your accounts and comb through old posts to edit out or delete unwanted information. Un-tag yourself from unflattering videos, photos and posts tagged by friends. This will take time, but it can control your information without having to delete whole accounts.
If you want to completely erase your profiles in websites, you can use JustDelete.me, a fast and easy solution that streamlines account termination. Another way is to do this manually by logging into your account and choosing the “delete my account” option. List down all the social media sites, blog pages, email providers, online subscriptions and forums you have joined in the past and terminate your accounts one by one.
- Controlling privacy settings
If you want to control all your future posts, you can check your account’s privacy settings and limit the number of people who can have access to your posts. Most websites allow search engines like Google to index your profiles and pages so that they appear in search results.
Another technique is to reduce the number of people you connect with. People you have added as connections will have access to your profiles and content. To stop strangers from viewing private information, simply stop adding people you are not well acquainted with.
- Securing public identities
Even though your pages have been set to private and you have deleted unwanted content if not unwanted websites, your information can still be wandering around on the internet. These can come in the form of public records, news sites and magazines.
To scour through your digital footprint, start a Google search of your name and wait for the results. If you see your name in any page, visit the sites where these pages are located and contact the administrator. Most website administrators may accommodate any request provided that they are reasonable. Some may require proof of identifications and a letter before completely erasing your information.
Dos and don’ts of online sharing
Once you’ve taken back control over your online information, it’s time to change your attitude on the way you use social media and online sites.
- Use personal messaging instead of public posting
Most social media sites give an option to send private messages aside from wall posts and tagging. For private and personal information, it’s more appropriate to send private messages directly to the receiver. This will prevent the public from seeing information that you wouldn’t like shared. Private messaging is also one of those services that social media sites never publish for public use.
- Limiting social media accounts
The best way to prevent information about yourself from leaking out is to keep your online accounts to a minimum. This way, you can better control the information you receive and give. Limiting your accounts also means that your name will turn up less in search results.
A lot of people have a difficult time doing this because social media accounts, blog pages, and other similar websites are tailoured to a specific taste. In this case, knowing how to integrate is the best way to stop from opening multiple accounts. For example, instead of opening a separate blog page, you can use Facebook Notes for longer posts.
- Don’t share passwords
Sharing passwords to family and friends has its perks, but if you want the information you place online to remain private, it’s best to keep mum about your password. Also, a compromised profile can be duplicated and used to send wrong information about you to your connections.
- Delete old and inactive accounts
If you haven’t opened an account for three months, consider it inactive. Old and inactive accounts are still a great source of information about you even though you have stopped using them. Delete old accounts you don’t want to be associated with if they contain information that is wrong or that can put you in an embarrassing situation.
Scour old emails and usernames that are not valuable. Not only can they leak information about you, they are also places that collect junk and spam messages.
Be careful what you share
The internet is one giant, fluid information highway. Once a piece of information is put online, deleting all traces of it is next to impossible. But everyone can still control their digital footprint by being more careful in the future. Think before you post. This way, you won’t have to worry about what the internet says about you.
Do you have other tips to control or delete the stuff you’ve shared online? Share them here!