How to remove yourself from Google
The more you use the web, the more information about yourself you leave behind. Every photo you share, every comment you make and every product you search for contributes to your “digital footprint”. It’s easy to forget which services you created profiles for and shared content on five, 10 or even 15 years ago, which means there’s a lot more of your personal info online than you may realise. Fortunately, there are several ways you can find and remove this data, or at least hide it. In this post we reveal the most effective methods for erasing yourself from the web, from deleting online accounts you no longer use to requesting the removal of your details from public directories. We also explain how to stop companies tracking your activities, and delve deep into two of the most notorious hoarders of personal data, Google and Facebook, to discover how you can use these sites without you or anyone else compromising your privacy.
How to remove yourself from Google?
1.Review your Google Dashboard
You might be surprised to discover just how much information about you Google has stored. log into your Google Dashboard (www.google.com/dashboard) and you’ll find links to every YouTube video you’ve watched, Android app you’ve installed, Google search you’ve performed (if you have the Web History feature turned on) and much more.
Dashboard lets you adjust your privacy settings for individual products and services, but an “Is this everything?” link at the bottom of the page confirms that it doesn’t cover all the data Google records. Still, it’s worth checking regularly to see what info is publicly available about you, so you can edit it accordingly.
2. Stop Google saving your searches
Google stores details of everything you search for and every link you click in your Web History (history.google.com), supposedly to make your results more relevant and load pages you’ve visited before more quickly. Your history includes image, news and blog searches, as well as addresses you look up on Google Maps and products you view through Google Shopping. You can delete individual entries from your history by selecting them and choosing “Remove items”. To clear your entire history, click the cog icon in the top-tight corner, choose settings and click the “delete all” link. You can aslo prevent Google from saving your future searches by clicking the “turn off” button.
3. Remove your details from search results
If searching for yourself on Google uncovers content you’d prefer to keep private, you can try to get it removed. The best way to do this, as suggested by the search engine on its “Keep personal information out of Google” page, is to contact the webmaster of the site on which you found your name, details or photo, and ask for the offending content to be deleted.
If you can’t find an email address in the “Contact us” section of the site, try Googling “whois” followed by the site URL to find out the name of the person and the hosting company.
Once the webmaster has erased the content, ask Google to remove the cached version of the page by following the instructions at bit.ly/cached314 .
You’ll need to type a word that appears on the out-of-data cached version of the page, but not anywhere on the live version (such as you name), so that Google understands that the page has changed and updates its results accordingly.
You can also request the removal of content hosted on Google services, e.g Blogger, Google+ and Picasa, by using the form at bit.ly/removing314. There’s a separate page for complaints about YouTube videos, such as the inclusion of defamatory materials.
4. Bury bad content with positive results
If a webmaster refuses to remove content that you regard as unfair, outdated or negative, you could try to push their page down Google’s search results. One way to do this is to create new profiles on social media sites (and edit existing ones), set them to be publicly viewed and share the type of photos and comments you won’t regret later. You can also post comments on web forums and news stories under your real name, although this will have the effect of raising your web presence, rather than erasing it!
Alternatively, you could use the service BrandYourself (www.brandyourself.com) , which promises to fill the first page of Google search results for your name with positive links. It works by letting you create a search-engine-optimised profile that will appear high in Google results and improve the rank of other links you associate with it. With the free version of BrandYourself, you can submit three links, which can be anything from personal websites and social-networking profiles to online articles you’ve written. Upgrade to one of the paid-for plans for unlimited links and the ability to see who’s been searching for you. Prices start at $24.99 USD for three months.
5. Delete your whole Google account
If you’re really unhappy about all the personal data Google has stored about you, one drastic option is to delete your account altogether. This isn’t a decision to be taked lightly, because it means you’ll lose all the information and files you have stored in Google services, including Gmail, Drive and YouTube. It will also cause problems if you use an Android phone or tablet, which require you to be logged into your Google account so you can install and update your apps.
Still, if you;re determined to cut loose from Google, you can do so by logging into your account at www.google.com/settings/account and clicking the link “Close account and delete all services and information associated with it” at the bottom of the page. you’ll then be asked to confirm you understand that you’ll no longer be able to use the listed services (annoyingly, you need to select them individually) and to sign in for the final time before you click Delete my Account. Google doesn’t say how long the deletion will take, but it’s likely to depend on the amount of data you have stored across its various products and services.
6. Delete individual Google accounts
If you’d rather keep your Google account, you can instead remove your details from individual Google services. To delete your Gmail account, click the Products link on the left-hand side of your account page, then click the edit link at the top of the page. Click “Remove Gmail permanently” and confirm that you want to close your account and delete the contents of your mailbox (this usually takes two days). Enter a new email address with which to sign into your Google account and click Remove Gmail.
To delete all your Youtube videos and data, go to the Advanced page within your Account Settings ( www.youtube.com/account_advanced ) and click Close Account, However, if your username is linked to your Google+ account, things become trickier and you’ll either need to revert to a Youtube username first (see bit.ly/youtubeuser314 for instructions) or “downgrade” (delete) your Google+ account. You can do this by logging into your main Google account and clicking the “Delete profile and remove related Google+ features link.
7. Stop other sites accessing your Google account
It’s easy to forget how many websites, apps and services you’ve granted access to your google account over the years. You may have done this for a valid reason, such as allowing a chrome add-on to save files to google drive or registering with a site using your Google details, but did you realise that these third-party tools can access and use your personal info? To protect your data, go to your account page, click Security and click the “Manage access” button next to “Cond applicationectens and sites”. Click the Revoke Access button next to every service you want to disconnect from your Google Account.
8. Use an alternative search engine
When you click a Google result, the site you visit can view your search term, location, the browser you’re using and other information, which means its third-party advertisers can track you. If you’d prefer to search the web anonymously, consider switching to DuckDuckGo ( https://duckduckgo.com ), which doesn’t share or store your searches and personal details. Its browser add-on for Firefox and chrome lets you search the web speedily and securely without compromising your privacy.
Alternatively, try Startpage (startpage.com ) , which delivers the same results as Google, but doesn’t record your IP address, use tracking cookies or share any information with third parties.
Check out How to remove yourself from Facebook