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How to erase your digital footprint

Whether you’re going into witness protection, hiding from a psycho ex or the thought of your details floating around in cyberspace concerns you, we’re going to teach you how to erase your digital footprint from the internet.

Before you commit digital suicide, take a week or two to make sure removing yourself from the internet is something you really want to do.

1. Say goodbye to Facebook

So, the time has come to close your Facebook account? You can begin the process by selecting the deactivate button. Your profile will still exist, only no-one else can view it. At this stage, you can still have a change of heart when you realise you can’t live without Facebook. It’s easily reactivated with just a mouse click. To permanantly remove your profile, there is a form under the “Help” section you will need to complete. It’s a precautionary measure to make sure you understand that once your profile is gone, it’s gone for good and ensures hackers can’t close your account.

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2. Google yourself

Type your name into the Google search bar to see how many times your name appears in these search engine results. It’s the quickest way to discover any accounts you had signed up for and forgotten about, like PayPal, Tumblr, dating sites, old blogs and ICQ. See, you’d already forgotten ICQ even existed. Make a list of every website you appear on and visit them to unsubscribe.

3. Remove comments in forums or reviews

Removing your comments or reviews from various websites will be a time-consuming task, particularly if you have been active on the internet. You can contact the web administrator if you are unable to log in and delete comments yourself. At the bottom of the homepage, or under “contact us”, you will usually find a link you can click allowing you to email the person in charge of the web administration. If you ask nicely, they will usually oblige.

4. Use bogus information

You may encounter websites that won’t allow you to delete your account, but don’t worry, we have a solution. If you can log in, you can falsify the details on your profile. Change your name to Fred Flintstone (any cartoon character will suffice), create a bogus email address and a fake postal address to avoid receiving any further communication from the company or service.

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5. Have a privately-listed number

If you have your name on a phone account, your name will appear in the White Pages, both printed and online. It only takes a quick phone call to customer service so they don’t publish it on the internet.

6. Unsubscribe from emails

Companies will have an unsubscribe option at the bottom of marketing emails you have signed up to receive. When they appear in your inbox, it only takes a matter of seconds to click on the link to ask them to remove you from their mailing list.

7. Close your email accounts

It sounds drastic, but it’s all part of the package if you’re hell-bent on disappearing from the internet. Make sure you’ve kept a record of all those emails containing pertinent information. If you are using a free email service, like Hotmail or Gmail, the process is fairly simple. If you have an email address you require for work, you had better invent a fabulous reason for your boss as to why you need to digitally disappear.

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