A new year gives you a chance to start fresh. To many, this means decluttering their homes and hanging up new curtains. But there’s something even more important you should be paying attention to — your digital devices. Tap or click here for tech cleanups for your inbox, network and gadgets.
Let’s dive deeper into your digital life. Whether you know it or not, your personal and private information is all over the internet. You don’t need to be active on social media or forums. Much information comes from publicly available sources such as court records and your online accounts (active or otherwise).
Here are three ways to reduce your digital footprint and protect privacy.
Just delete yourself
Surprise, surprise — the companies behind your apps and accounts don’t want you to leave. They often make opting out or deleting your account a complex process. They add obstacles like making removal only possible from a browser. When all else fails, you may have to contact the company directly.
Fortunately, there’s a site designed for precisely this problem. Go to justdeleteme and click on or type in the name of the service, app or account you want to remove your information.
Justdeleteme uses color codes according to how complex the deletion process is for a site: green is easy, yellow is medium, red is hard and black is impossible. One example of a black-labeled site is Acorns, which you must contact for deactivation.
Simply click on the top name in the colored box to be redirected to the section of that site that lets you delete your accounts. You can also click on the Show Info button if you find yourself stuck and need more background.
The more online accounts you have, the more at risk you are when hackers come calling. With a new breach around every corner, your usernames and passwords aren’t safe. That’s why getting rid of apps you are not using is crucial. This will help protect your data.
Tap or click here for more information on justdeleteme.
Opt-out Tuesday (and every day)
Ever seen ads to find information about anyone online? These come from people search sites, which collect and sell personal information to anyone interested. This can include people you’d rather not be in contact with, such as a jealous ex. Then there are hackers and scammers who can really cause damage.
People search sites scrape your information from local, state and federal public records, court records, social media, forums and other sources. They can also purchase information from data brokers.
Your name, address, birthday, gender, marital status, family members, social media profiles, education level, property records, financial records, phone number, police record, employment information and more are there for the taking (and selling).
So what can you do about it? You can opt out of these sites, which is usually a simple process. The problem is you’ll have to do so one by one for each site.
But don’t despair! We combined entries from our weekly Opt-Out Tuesday series into one post with instructions on deleting yourself from over 30 of these invasive sites! Tap or click here for our opt-out mega post.
Remove your posts from social media
Social media is among the biggest culprits when it comes to privacy leaks. The companies share your information with others or use it for advertising. And the sheer size of their databases makes them prime targets for hacks and breaches.
Many people overshare on social media, including their contact information and posts that can help anyone learn where they work and live. Here are five social media dos and don’ts.
The best way to protect your privacy is to delete your social media accounts, and we have instructions for Twitter here and Facebook here.
We understand if you aren’t ready to say goodbye to social media. Perhaps it’s the only way you keep in touch with people you don’t see often. The next best thing is to delete your old posts to reduce the information people can find on you.
But who wants to go through hundreds or thousands of old posts for each account? Nobody, that’s who. That’s where Redact comes in. This free tool makes it easy to mass delete posts, files, images and direct messages (DMs).
Redact works for more than 20 sites and apps, including Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and TikTok, with more to come.
Once you download the app, open it and select the service you want to clean up. You’ll have different options for the types of data you want to delete. Preview your changes and start deleting. Depending on how much information you’re getting rid of, it could take a while.
Best of all, Redact doesn’t store your private information or log your messages or service credentials. But it may log user actions, error warnings and events to troubleshoot issues.
Tap or click here for more details on Redact.
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