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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Lifestyle

Becoming less visible online: 5 ways to shrink your digital footprint

As California’s pioneering ‘delete act’ progresses, here are five steps you can take today to become less visible online.

Editor’s commentary: You know the saying, “Once you put something on the internet, it’s there forever.” Obviously it means that once it’s out there, you can never take it back. It gets indexed by search engines, shared on social media, and replicated by any number of websites on the interweb. It’s nearly impossible to remove something once it’s out there.

There have been numerous stories of “revenge porn”, where an ex has retaliated by posting nude photos. There are websites dedicated to those photos! You can contact every website that has posted you in your birthday suit and ask the owner to remove it, but if they lack a conscience or decency, they will refuse. The same goes for identity thieves that steal your personal information and it ends up on a website on the dark web that sells the information they get from those identity stealing hackers.

Thats why this piece from Positive.News is important, deleting information you don’t want exposed is important. Good luck erasing your digital footprint!


California’s Delete Act, which is progressing through the state legislature, will empower people to control how much of their information appears online.  

The bill, signed by state governor Gavin Newsom in October 2023, means residents will be able to request their personal information be deleted by all data brokers in the state.   

It’s pioneering legislation that feels a long way off in all states. So, what steps can you take to take charge of your data? 

Five ways to shrink your digital footprint

Myspace. EBay. Facebook. They were cool once, useful even. But the fast-changing digital space means users soon migrate to other platforms or retreat entirely – leaving valuable data behind. Do a stocktake of lapsed platforms, unused email accounts and other sites that you’re still signed up to, then log in and delete. Could it also be time to consider the ones you still use? Who’s getting more out of the relationship? A Silicon Valley tech bro or you? 

A quick rummage around your inbox, particularly the junk folder, will soon identify the origins of mail that’s of no use to you. Old insurance companies, comparison sites, shops you bought something off once spin off newsletters in the hope that you’ll buy again, to little use to you. You may even have opted in by accident. At the bottom of every newsletter should be an option to unsubscribe. Click on that and look forward to the spam soon drying up. 

Once you’ve deleted the apps that you no longer use, check that the ones you’re left with aren’t able to follow you around. On Apple devices you do this by going into ‘settings’, ‘privacy’ and ‘tracking’, then making sure ‘allow apps to request to track’ is turned off. Dip into ‘location services’ to see which ones are literally following you on GPS. On Android devices, go to ‘settings’, ‘locations’, and ‘app locations permissions’, which should reveal which apps are snooping on you. 

Web activity leaves a trail of data behind, which is hoovered up by data brokers and sold off. There are hundreds of these companies, many of which have your name, contact details and other such vitals. If you’re covered by Europe’s GDPR (retained in UK law, but subject to review) or California’s Consumer Privacy Act, you can ask data brokers to delete your data. Databrokerwatch.org lists the major brokers and offers opt-out forms to speed up the process of getting your data deleted.  

Preventing data brokers from tracking you in the first place is even better. Enter The Onion Router – or TOR, for short – which is a free web browser that makes it more difficult for snoopers to follow you around online. The free software relays and encrypts your web visits, isolating each site you land on so third-party trackers and ads can’t follow you. Any cookies automatically clear when you’re done browsing. So will your browsing history. 

This article is from Positive.news and was republished here, with permission, under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license. https://www.positive.news/lifestyle/how-to-reduce-your-digital-footprint/

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