Mastering the vanishing act in virtual world 

Achieving online anonymity, however, can be challenging.
Mastering the vanishing act in virtual world 

In the digital age, it’s common to feel overwhelmed or concerned about one’s online presence. Whether it’s the potential privacy breach, the looming threat of identity theft by hackers, the exploitation of personal information by data brokers, or the addictive social media, the threat to one’s online identity is only increasing by the day. This is why the idea of removing oneself from the virtual world or at least limiting exposure to it is gaining traction.

Achieving online anonymity, however, can be challenging. From deleting social media accounts to addressing personal data stored by search engines, erasing your digital footprint requires a comprehensive approach. Here is a step-by-step guide to doing it.

Deleting Multiple Accounts
Instead of individually navigating through complex menus on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there’s a tool called Redact that simplifies the process. Available as an app for Android, it allows you to sign in and mark all your social media account data for deletion. Shopping platforms like Amazon and Flipkart, too, have detailed insights into our preferences, shopping habits, and personal information such as addresses. You can either delete your profile or use Account Killer, a website that provides easy instructions to remove accounts from various such websites.

Bid Farewell to Email
Aside from social media, it’s crucial to find any active email or online accounts associated with you. Safeguard any important data by exporting it before deactivating or deleting these accounts. Services like Google Takeout provide a secure way to save your Gmail data offline. Remember to also delete accounts on professional platforms like LinkedIn and any other websites where you provide your personal information.

Taking Control
While you may not have direct control over how Google’s search engine displays information about you, there are measures you can take to ensure that the content shown is updated and appropriate. If a web page has been recently overhauled by its owner, but the changes aren’t reflected in search results, the platform provides a tool to request the removal of outdated content. If you find personal information or objectionable content about yourself on one or more Google services, you can request its removal by submitting an appeal to the platform where the content appears. Google, however, evaluates factors like accuracy, relevance and public interest to determine if your application will be honoured.

Seeking Professional Assistance
Even after Google removes your information from search results, your content may be still present on various websites. Third-party data deletion services ensure a more comprehensive and efficient removal process. Consider providers like Deleteme, Kanary and OneRep to assist you.

Moving Forward
If you choose to re-establish your online presence in the future, take proactive steps to protect your data. Secure your iOS and Android devices by adjusting permissions and privacy settings. When you browse the Web, you can enhance your online security by utilising a virtual private network, such as the one provided by Google One.

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The New Indian Express
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