How to Remove Information From the Internet

Jennifer Betts
Exasperated young man with laptop

You hear it time and time again: think before you post. Deleting something from the internet, like an unflattering picture or a post, can be tricky. Remember that while you can delete the source of your troubles, removing something completely from the web is next to impossible, especially if it was archived or reposted.

Deleting Social Media Accounts

Whether you just need to purge your life of digital media or you were hacked, there are several reasons you might choose to remove yourself from social media and reclaim your privacy. This will be slightly different for Facebook or Instagram, but the process is pretty similar.

  1. Find the "remove my account" button, typically under privacy or security.
  2. Decide if you'd like to disable your account or permanently delete it.
  3. If you disable it, your information will stay on the site, but it will not be visible until you reactivate the account.
  4. If you choose to delete your account permanently, the information is removed completely, and you will not be able to restore or retrieve it later.

Even if you delete your social media account, content posted about you by other users on their own pages will not be removed.

Protecting Your Reputation

Shocking information on the Internet

Reputation management is a big business. Several companies exist that will help you to remove information that hurts your reputation. For example:

  • A private photo was leaked on to a public profile
  • An image of your child was turned into a meme
  • A blog made an unflattering post about you
  • A post on your private Twitter profile was made public

These are just a few examples of things you want to remove. Remember that timing is everything. The longer something is on the internet, the more impact it can have. Remove offensive material as soon as possible.

Steps for Removing Unflattering Information

There are ways to remove unflattering information, at least partially, from the internet. Since all someone needs to do is take a screenshot, getting their copy of your post removed can be nearly impossible, especially if it goes viral. However, you can make it much harder to find.

Social Media

If the original content was published on a social media platform, consider following these steps.

  1. Find and remove the original post. While you can't stop people from taking a screenshot of the original, getting the original post off the web is important. It will stop retweets and shares of the original post.
  2. Remove yourself from posts you didn't make. On social media sites like Facebook, you can untag yourself by clicking on the picture and choosing to untag.
  3. To ensure your friends' unflattering posts don't show up in your Facebook feed, set it so you must approve each time you are tagged. Find this under timeline and tagging settings.
  4. File a formal complaint with the social media platform to have the offensive material removed.

Web

If your post has gone past social media or wasn't on social media to begin with, removing it gets harder.

  1. If you can, remove the original. If you don't have access to the material, contact the owner or editor of the website and make your case.
  2. Have a solid case for why it needs to be removed. This can't just be because it was unflattering; there needs to be a solid reason why the post's removal is necessary.
  3. If something goes viral, things can get really dicey; however, there are steps you can take to make the offensive material harder for find. Contact Google and submit a legal removal request. This will prevent it from showing up in web searches.
  4. If all else fails, contact a professional reputation management service company to help you.

While you won't be able to remove everything, taking these steps will make it a lot harder to find.

Erasing Publicly Accessible Information

Sometimes, people aren't worried about their private social media accounts or even bad reviews. Instead, they're concerned about access to their public information like addresses, phone numbers and wages gleaned from other sources and compiled into a profile on sites like Radaris or Spoke. Here's how to remove information from these sites.

  1. Find your name on the site in question.
  2. Click on the opt-out or suppress form. On Spoke, you use the suppression link, whereas White Pages has a specific form to fill out.
  3. Fill out the form to remove your information.

This will only remove your information from the site itself. Your information is still on the internet somewhere. You need to find where it is, like on a personal website or on Facebook, and take the steps to remove it to stop it from being listed on other public records sites.

Your Digital Footprint

The internet makes information accessible with the push of a button. However, sometimes that information is your personal information like your phone number or address. It can also be an unflattering picture or a blog post that could hurt your company. No matter what the case, getting rid of the information from the internet is top priority. There are several ways that you can do this, depending on what it is.

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How to Remove Information From the Internet