How to remove yourself from the internet

How to remove yourself from the internet

May 10, 2023 privacy 0

Your data is big business, though it’s one where you will never see any profit. Data brokers collect your data from a variety of predominantly online sources and resell it to interested parties. It’s used to check your eligibility for housing, by employers interested in your background, or by advertisers trying to sell you things.

Trying to remove yourself from the internet is tricky, but there’s a growing range of third-party services that can help you get a headstart. Alternatively, those with time on their hands can try to do it themselves. In either case, we’ll help you find the right solution, and explore whether it’s truly possible to remove your digital footprint.

In the meantime, you can stop further data being collected by making use of technology like VPNs, ad-blockers, and private search engines. Used together, these are effective at keeping personal information and online activity private.

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How to remove yourself from the internet

The most efficient way to start removing yourself from the internet is by using a dedicated data removal service. We’ve summarized the best of what’s available below.

Best services to remove yourself from the internet:

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Data aggregation – why every piece counts

It’s easy to disregard the importance of revealing things like your shoe size or shampoo preference online. After all, what use is that to anyone? The dangers to privacy arise when all of these disparate pieces of information are aggregated to create individual profiles. These profiles are extremely valuable to everyone from advertisers to government agencies.

Different countries have different rules as to how personal information gathered online can be used. The US has traditionally been rather lax in its restrictions, though this is starting to change with the introduction of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Countries in the EU offer their citizens some protections under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Even there, data brokers exploit the concept of “legitimate interest” to collate personal information.

Criteria for choosing the best online data removal services

Data brokers don’t really want to give up your personal information, which makes it all the more important to find a data removal service that’s persistent. It should also meet the following criteria:

  • Contact with the major data brokers
  • Value for money
  • Extra features
  • Free trial period
  • Global scope

The best online data removal tools

Trying to manually remove your data is an arduous task – one that few people have the time and patience to do. WIth this in mind, we’ve selected the best data removal tools that will do the hard work for you.

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Methodology: How we choose the best online data removal tools

The data removal service market is relatively new, but never more necessary. We looked at the available options, and included those that met the following criteria:

  • Contact with the major data brokers: Going after the data brokers is your best chance at removing the majority of your personal information from the web. As there are so many of them, we only recommend data removal services that know how to deal with the worst culprits.
  • Value for money: Removing your data from the plethora of companies that hoard it is an arduous task, so it’s no surprise that data removal services require subscriptions. However, it’s important that the subscription provides good value.
  • Extra features: We value removal services that consider other elements of online privacy, and try to protect your data elsewhere – whether that’s through cookie removal or phishing alerts.
  • Free trial period:Sometimes a service isn’t what you hoped it might be. A free trial period lets you test the waters without commitment.
  • Global scope: Every individual should have control over where their private information is used. Data removal services should therefore aim to protect citizens of a variety of countries.

How to manually remove yourself from the internet

If you don’t want to use third-party services to erase your digital footprint, then it is possible to do it yourself. Be warned though, it’ll require time, patience, and money to do a thorough clean. You’ll also need to reside somewhere that has strong privacy laws to back your deletion requests up.

Contact data brokers

This is the time-consuming part. You need to contact each broker and request to opt out and have your data removed from their databases. provides a list of data brokers, together with contact emails.

Each company will have slightly different ways for you to make official requests, so be prepared to fill out forms, confirm your identity or send a written request. It’s wise to follow up successful requests to check that the removal has been successful.

Choose your apps carefully

It’s all very well getting existing records of your data removed, but it’s a little pointless if you then immediately go on to provide more. Apps are a favorite way for data brokers to gather information about you, so examine those you use and enable all privacy settings. If you use social media, be careful about what personal information you post and ideally set your accounts to private.

If you need to download a new app, ensure that its permission requests tally with what you expect it to do. If not, then find an alternative. Uninstall any apps you no longer use.

Social media is bad for an individual's privacy.

Clear up after yourself

If you have the energy and memory, it’s worth making a start on deleting any accounts that are no longer used. In many cases, this isn’t feasible, but consider whether you can access the following: email, shopping, gaming, dating, education, and cloud storage accounts. If you’ve ever signed up to use particular forums, delete those accounts too.

Check search engine results

Enter your name into various search engines and see what comes up. If you find personal information appearing where it shouldn’t, contact the website in question and ask for it to be removed.

Webmasters can normally be found via a site’s “Contact Us” page or by performing a Whois search on Google. EU residents can use GDPR’s Article 17 (also known as the “right to be forgotten”) to give weight to requests. You should also use the Google form that requests that results containing personally identifiable information be removed.

To lessen the amount of your data collected by Google, visit Google’s activity controls to turn off Ad Personalization, YouTube history, Location history, and App and Web activity. Set auto-delete for each category to three months (the minimum allowed).

Use privacy software

There’s no simple solution to ensuring your data is never harvested while online. It’s more a matter of taking lots of small steps. Using the following software is a great start:

  • VPN: Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will route your internet traffic through an intermediary server. This prevents your ISP seeing which websites you visit, and the  websites themselves from knowing where and who you are.
  • Ad-blocker: As well as blocking annoying adverts, decent ad-blockers will prevent trackers from following you around online and gathering information.
  • Browser: Mainstays like Chrome follow you from site to site collecting information. Choosing a privacy-focused browser will block these, and also protect you against malware and ads. Better options include DuckDuckGo, Firefox, and Tor.
  • Private search engine: Mainstream search engines collect your IP address, as well as what you searched for and when. By contrast, a private search engine such as DuckDuckGo, SearX, and StartPage will protect your privacy as well as avoiding the echo-chamber of personalized search results.

Can I remove my data from the internet for good?

Unfortunately, many data brokers are extremely sneaky. When you use services to have your data removed from the internet, data brokers will often put your data on ice. This means that the data is laying dormant waiting to be re-uploaded to the internet at a later date.

This makes it very hard to remove your data from the internet forever. For this reason, it is important to regularly check that your data is still unavailable in marketing databases and data broker sites.

The best data removal services know this, which is why they double down on removing your data on a regular basis. Of course this means that you will either need to have a permanent subscription, or renew your subscription every couple of years to ensure that your data is scrubbed again.

What is the best way to prevent my data circulating online?

Removing your data is al well and good. However, the best way to ensure your data privacy is to prevent your data from accumulating online in the first place.

The primary method for this is to gain privacy through obscurity. If you wnt to have more privacy online, refuse to provide your data whenever possible.

Use fake names and fake email addresses to access services if possible, and use burner email addresses registered to fake names. In addition, do not unnecessarily provide personal information to social media sites or other services.

Finally, use only the services you need, and be care full not to give websites and apps unnecessary permissions on your devices. 

By preventing your data form making its way onto the internet you will enable higher levels of protection for your data. This means that there will be less data that needs removing from the internet, making it easier to maintain your digital footprint.

FAQs: How to remove yourself from the internet

[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”How do I see what data Google holds about me?” answer=”Google holds a lot of information about us. It can log where you go (via Maps), what you search for (via the Google search engine), and what you watch (on YouTube). If you haven’t already, you should stop some of this information from being gathered by visiting the Data & Privacy section of Here you can remove permissions in the History Settings and Ad Settings boxes.

However, if you’d like to see what Google has collected thus far, do the following:

  1. Go to:
  2. Click on Data & Privacy from the menu on the left.
  3. Scroll down to Data from apps and services you use.
  4. Click on Download your data from the Download or delete your data box.
  5. Use the check boxes to select data to include and click Next Step.
  6. Choose from the download options and click Create Export.” /]]

[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”What are people-search sites?” answer=”As their name suggests, people-search websites are used for finding people. Some of the largest include Intelius, Truthfinder, and Instant Checkmate. They are a type of data broker that buys and sells personal information. People-search websites are used by everyone from law enforcement to the media.

Nobody voluntarily provides people-search websites with their personal information. Instead, that data is scraped from public forums, social media sites, local and state public records, or purchased from other data brokers.

It can include information on everything from who you live with to details about your job, home, education, and political affiliations. You may have to pay to see exactly what data the company holds about you, as most people-search sites are a paid-for service.

Systematically checking each site for your personal information, and then submitting a request to have it removed, can be expensive – as well as time-consuming. Services such as Incogni represent good value for money in that they do all the searching, removal requests, and follow-up checks for you.” /]]

[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”How do I delete social media accounts?” answer=”Public social media accounts provide prime scraping material for data brokers. If you have an account that you no longer use, delete it rather than letting it sit idle.

How to delete an Instagram account:

  1. Go to the Delete your account page. If you aren’t logged in to Instagram on the web, you’ll be asked to log in first.
  2. Select an option from the drop-down menu below: Why do you want to delete {account name}? and re-enter your password. The option to permanently delete your account will only appear after you’ve selected a reason from the menu and entered your password.
  3. Click Delete {username}.

How to delete a Facebook account:

  1. From your main profile, click the down arrow in the top right of Facebook.
  2. Select Settings & privacy, then click Settings.
  3. Click Your Facebook information in the left column.
  4. Click Deactivation and deletion.
  5. Choose Delete Account, then click Continue to account deletion.
  6. Click Delete Account, enter your password and then click Continue.

How to delete a Twitter account:

  1. Log in to your Twitter account.
  2. From the main page, click the three-dot menu icon on the left sidebar and select Settings and privacy.
  3. Select Deactivate your account.
  4. Read through the information and click Deactivate.
  5. You’ll be asked to confirm your password, then you can click Deactivate one more time.” /]]


The reality is that you’ll never completely erase your digital footprint – especially if you’ve already been online for several years. The expansive nature of the internet just makes it too difficult to hoover up every scrap of personal data from every server.

What we can do is to go after the worst offenders – data brokers – and prevent fully-formed profiles from being created, bought, and sold. To this end, we recommend the following services:

  1. [[post-object type=”gotolink” provider=”incogni”]]Incogni:[[/post-object]] The best option to remove yourself from the internet. Contacts more than 130 data brokers on your behalf and requests the removal of data they have on you.
  2. [[post-object type=”gotolink” provider=”privacybee”]]Privacy Bee:[[/post-object]] Removes your data from data brokers, people search sites, and mass marketers.
  3. [[post-object type=”gotolink” provider=”deleteme”]]Delete Me:[[/post-object]] Contacts search engines as well as more than 30 data brokers with requests to remove your data.


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