How to delete personal information about myself on the Internet
If you find personal information about yourself on the Internet, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to get that information removed.
In most cases, once information is on the Internet, it is there to stay. Whether other people can find it, depends on how easy it is to find through a web Search Engine.
Removing Personal Website
If you own the website where your personal information is found, you can remove the information from the web pages or you can delete the web page or website entirely. If you want to keep the information online but do not want search engines to find the information you can password protect the information or setup a robots.txt file to block search engines.
Remove Social Networking Site Data
For social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, you can choose what personal information to displayed to other users. These settings are found through the Privacy settings in each of the services. However, not all information can be controlled, and some of it may be publicly displayed or have the potential of being displayed in the future.
Removing information from someone else's website
If your personal information is on a website you have no control over or ownership of, you can attempt to ask the webmaster or web host of the site to remove your information. In some cases after time they may comply with your request.
Removing link to a site from search engines
Many search engines have policies where they remove the links to sites based on the content. When we say "remove," we mean that the links are no longer indexed, but the information remains on the Internet. For example, Google may remove links to pages that contain any of the below personal information.
- National identification numbers like U.S. Social Security Number, Argentina Single Tax Identification Number, Brazil Cadastro de pessoas Físicas, Korea Resident Registration Number, China Resident Identity Card, etc.
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Images of signatures
Best practices to follow when posting information
As a best practice, always be mindful and careful of what you divulge to anyone on the Internet, be it a person or a business. On chat sites and social networking sites, if you don't want someone to spread information about you around the Internet, don't say it or type it. The best way to keep personal information to yourself is just that, keep it to yourself.
The Internet is vast, and word spreads fast!