Delete your digital footprint

How to exit from the internet, including social media.
 
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02.Get off social media

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If you've had enough of social media, then you can delete your account and enjoy all the spare time you're not spending reading status updates and looking at friends' photos.

Most sites provide options for you to close your account and remove your data. It takes a bit of time to dig through the settings, so here are the steps for a few of the popular platforms you might want to exit. You may want to remove as much data as possible first before deleting the account.

Facebook allows you to deactivate your account or permanently delete it. Log in and then type Help in the search bar to get to the Help Centre > Manage Your Account > Account Settings > Editing Your Settings > How do I permanently delete my account? Click the fill out this form link to enter your details to remove your account.

Google data can be collected from Google services such as +1s, Blogger, Contacts and Circles, Drive, Gmail, Google+ profiles, pages and streams, Picasa web albums, Google Voice and YouTube. You can delete your account or set the rules for what happens to it if it’s no longer used.

Click on the profile picture in the top-right corner of the window, then click Account. Under Account Management there are several options.

Click Close account and delete all services and information associated with it to remove your details from Google services. Check the boxes for the services you want to delete, enter your password and then click the Delete Google Account button.

 

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LinkedIn: Log in and go to Settings > Account > Close Your Account. You'll jump to a verification screen, where LinkedIn will ask you why you want to close your account. Select a reason, and then click Continue to delete your account.

Twitter lets you deactivate your account with relative ease. Just log in and click the little cog, then go to Settings > Account and click the Deactivate my account link at the bottom of the page. Read the information and then click the Deactivate button. 

Search engines also publish information about you, and if it’s something you don’t like, you can request that Google and Bing (Microsoft) remove the page from their search results. The first step is to contact the website and ask for the page or the offending section to be removed:

Go to Bing and click the Report a Violation Support form. If it’s outdated links or cache, submit a request to have it removed. 

Google also lets you request to get pages removed from the search results. There are also options for removing other content from the search results.

Own your personal info

You may be aware of companies that specialise in collecting personal information for background checks that are used by banks, financial institutions or other groups looking to verify people’s identities. If you’re really concerned or curious about how far your information has flowed, you can get your details taken out of the system. These sites relate mostly to US citizens, so they may have limited applicability here.

Abine, which makes privacy apps, list places to go to delete your personal information that can be used for background checks. It also has a paid service called DeleteMe, which will remove your details from sites that collect and aggregate personal information.

Do you need an e-will?

With the digital revolution encouraging people to put more of their lives online, it’s a growing concern working out what happens to all the emails, videos, photos and other e-footprints when we’re gone. And there may come a time when you need to deal with end-of-life planning for your or a loved one’s digital assets.
If you know how you want your digital life treated, you could take matters into your own hands. You can, for example, detail in your will what you want done with your e-life and who should take possession of your files and passwords. You might also leave instructions for how you want your accounts treated when you’re gone. Another option is to create a secure file with information on all the e-services with logins and passwords, and instructions to delete your accounts that is left to the executor of your estate.

If you’re not comfortable with the DIY approach, however, there are sites that let you create an e-vault for your electronic files. We haven’t tested them, so we suggest you compare costs and features from a few. 
  • The Password Box site records a beneficiary for your digital content, and stores passwords that can be passed on as well as backups of important documents such as wills. 
  • At Asset Lock you can store digital copies of documents, final messages and passwords.
  • The My Goodbye Message site offers a posthumous service that send pre-determined notes, emails, videos and other messages to friends and family.
  • If you’d like to create an online memorial, Memorial Matters is worth a look.
  • Thedigitalbeyond.com blog is a useful place to find news and helpful articles and list of sites for digital estate planning.


 
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