Keeping safe can be very time-consuming. There are so many articles that it’s hard to keep track of what really works. Case in point – I tried a few suggestions in an article I ran across, here are the results:
1). justdelete.me, which has instructions for deleting many different types of accounts. It brings up an alphabetical list of a bazillion companies, many of which I never heard of. This is very time-consuming, as you have to go through each company, remembering which ones you may have visited, and then find out how to delete the account. I tried Craigslist, following instructions. I used the provided email. It was returned saying the email was no longer valid…you may have to go right to the company; check its online support pages or contact customer support and ask for account deletion. When you delete an account, it doesn’t mean you lose everything you had on that site. For example, you can easily download all the data associated with a Facebook or Google account and do whatever you want with it. Just be sure to keep backup copies of everything you consider important.
2). Deleting Old Accounts – You probably don’t remember every online account you’ve ever created. To find old accounts you might want to delete, search your e-mails for terms like welcome, verify your account, and free trial. The e-mails that pop up will remind you of accounts you’ve signed up for, then choose which ones to delete. Its even easier if you already track your passwords in a password manager. Just scroll through the list to find accounts you no longer use.
3). Delete Old E-Mails – de-clutter your inbox. It contains a lot of personal details that could be useful to identity thieves. Also, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, e-mails stored on a web server are considered abandoned after 180 days, and the government can access them without a warrant. Despite bipartisan agreement and a unanimous vote in the House to approve the Email Privacy Act in 2016, which would close this loophole, the bill has not passed the Senate. Consider deleting old e-mails, possibly after downloading a copy. This protects your correspondence from both hackers and warrantless government surveillance.
4). Search your usernames online Head to a search engine and search for your name, as well as any usernames you’ve gone by online. The results show you where your name appears on the public Web. In all likelihood, your social media profiles will pop up in the results. That means they will also show up for other people who search for you.
5). Hide social media profiles from search engines. -To wipe these personal details from the Internet, you can make your social media accounts vanish from search results by visiting each site that came up in your initial search and changing the privacy settings. Each site works a bit differently; for guidance, search for privacy settings and the name of each site. While youre cleaning things up, you can also remove comments youve posted, delete accounts, or ask websites to take down your personal information.
6). Control social media privacy settings – You may also want to restrict who can see what you post on social media sites. For example, on Facebook you can limit who can find you, who can see what you post, and what Facebook shares about you with other companies. To get started, go to the Facebook home page and click the down arrow in the top right corner, then select Settings & Privacy. A good guide to Facebook privacy settings can be found at consumerreports.org/privacy/facebook-privacy-settings/.
7). Delete old social media posts = Facebook was created back in 2004. By now, the college students who shared their party photos on the social media service in its infancy are in their mid-30s. Fortunately, Facebook has a Manage Activity tool that lets you delete or archive posts older than a certain date. Instagram allows you to delete or archive individual posts. Only you can see the things you’ve archived on either platform. Twitter has no built-in way to delete old tweets, but third-party tools such as TweetDelete can delete them, either automatically or based on specific criteria that you set. The tool can even remove your likes on other users tweets.
8). Opt out of people finder websites – Beyond social media, countless people finder websites (Spokeo is one example) host databases full of personal information. This includes names, addresses, ages, phone numbers, and even court records. The Publishers Clearinghouse lists hundreds of them, often gather this information through public records, and theyre not always accurate. You can opt out, but youll have to do it from each service separately. Be warned that companies may opt you back in, so you may have to opt out more than once. Services such as PrivacyDuck and DeleteMe promise to do the work for you, but they cost hundreds of dollars a year and dont cover every one of the people finders, so they may not be worth it unless you are a public figure or are actively being harassed. No matter how California’s new privacy act affects you, the California Consumer Privacy Act took effect on January 1, 2020. If you are a California resident, it gives you the right to know what data a company is collecting, tell it to stop selling yours, and request that it be deleted. California’s Office of the Attorney General offers a guide to your rights under the CCPA, at oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa. Even if you arent in California, the CCPA may still benefit you. In complying with the law, many companies now offer increased transparency to all. For example, Microsoft announced it will honor California’s new privacy rights throughout the United State s.
9). Search with DuckDuckGo to limit the data gathered on In the future, use the more private search engine DuckDuckGo. Make it your default search engine on all your devices by going to duckduckgo.com and clicking the add button. Unlike Google and other big-name search engines, DuckDuckGo doesnt track your searches and link them to you, so it wont show you targeted ads or personalized search results either.
10). Tell Google to stop tracking you. – Even if you want to keep using Google, you can activate more privacy settings to keep the Internet giant from tracking all your web searches, which it does automatically if youre logged in to Google (while using Gmail, for example). Even YouTube, which is owned by Google, tracks a history of the videos you watch. But this tracking is optional. You can tell Google to stop collecting your data in the future and to delete whatever it has already collected. To pause collection and delete previously collected data, visit the My Google Activity page. To get there, click on your Google profile photo, go to Manage Your Google Account, and, in the left navigation panel, click Data & Privacy. Then, under History Settings, click My Activity and turn off any activity you dont want to save.
11). Limit Who Has Your Location History – Something else Google may track about you, unless you tell it not to, is your location history. Depending on your settings, Google may store this information forever, building a database of your movements. Google can gather this information via smartphones with its Android operating system or if you install the Google Maps app on an iPhone and give it location access. Heres how to stop it: On the My Google Activity page, select the option to pause collection of your location and delete your collected location data or tell Google to automatically delete it.
12). Configure Your Browser for Privacy -Browser cookies are small pieces of information that websites can store in your browser to track you. Chrome is moving away from cookies and toward a technology called FLoC, which will essentially make the browser track your search history and report your general interests to websites so they can feed you ads based on your perceived interests. There are ways to limit this tracking, with ad blockers and browser extensions that protect privacy. But you can be tracked in other ways, including by your IP address, a number that identifies your Internet connection online. (Every device on your home network likely shares the same IP address.) One way to conceal your IP address is with a VPN.
13). Use a VPN – A VPN, or virtual private network, creates a secure tunnel to the Internet, acting as a middleman between you and your Internet service provider by encrypting your connection. With a VPN, your Internet service provider can’t see what websites youre accessing, and the websites you’re accessing can see only the VPN’s IP address, not your IP address. If youve ever worked remotely, you’ve likely used your company’s VPN. The privacy that VPNs provide is attractive not just to businesses but also to dissidents in repressive countries such as China to get around Internet censorship and shield their online activity. When choosing a VPN, do some research, look up independent reviews, and be sure to pick a trustworthy one. Wirecutter recommends Mullvad, and also suggests the service IVPN for those who use multiple devices at once. Operating a VPN costs money, so many free VPNs are untrustworthy and may even sell your data to make a profit. A good VPN generally charges a subscription fee, often just a few dollars a month.
14). Go Incognito – A VPN isnt a magic bullet. Its just one piece of the puzzle. Lets say you connect to a VPN, visit Googles website, and sign in to your Google account. Now Google knows who you are. Even if you do’nt sign in, websites can check your browser cookies to link your VPN activity to your previous browsing. Use your browsers private- browsing mode to better protect your privacy while using a VPN. To go incognito on Chrome, click on the File menu in the upper left corner and select New Incognito Window. On Firefox, choose New Private Window.
15). Switch to Privacy-Friendly Apps Just like websites, the apps on our phones collect data about us. Until recently, finding out how various app companies use that data meant reading long and tedious privacy policies. But now its getting a bit easier thanks to new features such as privacy labels in Apple’s App Store, which tell you what type of data an app collects before you install it. There are usually multiple apps for the same purposes, so choose those that collect less data.
16). Seek out End-to-End Encryption for improved privacy online, seek out services that use end-to-end encryption. With this type of security, your data can be seen only by you and the people you communicate with. Apple’s iMessages uses it, for example (iMessages are text messages between two Apple users, indicated by blue chat bubbles, as opposed to green text messages, which indicate a non- Apple user). Sites that employ end-to-end encryption often say so in order to advertise their enhanced security. One communication app that uses end-to-end encryption is Signal. Owned by a nonprofit and popular with activists worldwide, it works on both Apple and Android products.
17). Take Advantage of Apples New Privacy Features – Apple has been a leader in introducing privacy features, and recently the company added even more with the newest operating systems, namely iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey. Most of these features require iCloud+, an additional paid iCloud storage plan (starting at 0.99 cents/month). The included iCloud Private Relay service functions similarly to a VPN: It routes your Safari browsing traffic through an anonymous server. Websites will know the general region youre in but wont see your unique IP address as you browse. When signing up for accounts or newsletters online, the Hide My Email feature in iCloud+ lets you create randomized unique e-mail addresses that forward e-mails to your real e-mail account. Senders cant see your real e-mail address, and you can deactivate a randomized e-mail address at any time, perfect for avoiding spam.
18). Protect Your Mail Even if you don’t pay for iCloud+, be sure to look for the Mail Privacy Protection feature that pops up the first time you open Apple’s Mail app. It will block tracking pixels, preventing people (and advertisers) from seeing when you opened their e-mails. When you load images in e-mails, Apple will hide your address from trackers.
19). Remove saved payment details – Don’t save your payment details on online shopping sites. True, this makes it easier for you to buy the things you want, but it also makes it easier for criminals to gain access to your accounts and buy things as you. As a compromise, you may want to keep a credit card stored on sites you shop often but not on sites you use only occasionally.
20). Be careful about sharing info -Think twice before sharing any personal details anywhere online. At the time, sharing a tidbit may seem inconsequential, but remember, personal details such as your birthday or the city you were born in are just the sorts of facts you should guard carefully, as they are often the answers to your security questions. Worse yet, should a criminal get hold of your birthdate and the city you were born in, suddenly it becomes easier to guess your Social Security number. In 2011, the Social Security Administration began randomizing newly assigned Social Security numbers. Before that, peoples Social Security numbers were determined by the place and time they were born, so those are important clues to keep from identity thieves. Concerns about online privacy aren’t just concerns about privacy on the Internet, they’re about privacy in every facet of our lives. All of this is a lot to fully comprehend, but knowing the scale of the problem and taking these very doable steps is a good start.