Nowadays, one can easily find quite a lot of information about anyone on the Internet. Some people realize that they want to recover their privacy and get away from permanent exposure caused by social networks and the Internet, although just a few dare to take the final step and disappear completely from the digital world. If you are one of the brave ones who decide to disappear digitally, be prepared and know that it is going to be a long and complicated process. However, nothing is impossible.
How to disappear from the Internet?
A word of warning: remember that disappearing from the Internet has significant consequences. For example, it could harm your work life by eliminating all public exposure. Without email accounts in your real name, you may also find it challenging to sign up for certain services. Also keep in mind that if you delete all your profiles, the information you have stored will disappear forever, so be sure to keep backup copies of all the contacts, documents, photos and other content you accumulate online. Here's how to delete your presence from the Web.
How to delete your social network accounts (and accounts from other online platforms)?
The first step to disappearing completely from the digital world is to remove your profiles from all kinds of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. However you shouldn't stop here, you may have registered on other platforms over the years and forgotten about their existence. Try to remember them: MySpace, Tumblr, Soundcloud, etc.
How to delete your email accounts?
Secondly, delete all your email accounts. Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, university email accounts, everything. With Gmail, make sure to remove all associated services (Gmail, Drive, YouTube, etc.). To do so, go to My Account by clicking on your profile picture and choose Delete your account. Once you're in, hit delete all.
Some services may prevent you from deleting your accounts. In this case, we recommend you replace the personal information stored in them (such as date and place of birth, first name and last name, gender, etc.) with fictitious data.
How to remove your name from search engines?
This is the most complicated part. After years of being part of the «connected» society, it is more than likely that your name or identity will appear in multiple places. Therefore, it is advisable to enter your name, surname, nicknames and usernames in the most popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and look for all the information related to you.
These search engines have most likely indexed your content, including photos, text, work, or account data. To remove this information, you will need to make a list of the web pages where it is posted, then contact each of them and get it removed. This is a tedious job, although the owners of the pages usually agree to delete the content. To help you with this, search engines such as PeekYou or UserSearch will be your best allies.
What is the Right to be Forgotten?
The right to be forgotten on the Internet is a concept related to personal data protection and respect for privacy. It has been recognized in the European Union since 2014. Based on this, if you are an EU resident, you can ask search engines such as Google to remove results that lead to you, as long as it does not conflict with the right to information, using this form, or this form if you live elsewhere in the world.
What are other websites that may still contain your personal information?
You may have posted text or other content under your real name on the Web. Try to erase all this information from blogs, forums, and delete your accounts. Even if you have used an alias in a forum, it is best to erase those posts as well because even using pseudonyms, it would be easy to track you down and find your email or your real name.
How to become invisible on the Internet?
Congratulations! You've already managed to disappear from the Web! However, you will still need to communicate with the world through digital means, unless you decide to go into the wild and live as a hermit.
There are a few additional tips on how to use the Internet without risking your privacy and staying invisible:
- Set up an account with a secure and encrypted e-mail service. Use a false name, because if you use your real data, the moment you communicate with «normal» mail service, you will be exposed again.
- Start using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when surfing the Internet and choose the incognito mode on your browser to prevent your activity from being recorded. Also, clear your browsing history.
- If you publish content, always do so under a pseudonym
- Do not register on any unofficial site with your real name