How to Recover Your Online Privacy: 5 Easy Steps

Tom VincentOctober 12, 2022
Webmaster - DTechClub
Fact-checked by our editorial expert

Keeping your personal information safe online doesn't have to mean sacrificing comfort.

Nowadays, everything is done online. Scammers use the online world, the internet, to build large systems that steal people's identities. Third parties get information about us and sell it to advertisers. Additionally, employers use the internet to find out about their employees.

If you're like me, you probably wish there was a way to get some space back.

If you know where to look, it's easy to find your digital footprints and make them as small as possible. New privacy law is not required, nor do you have to pay anything. You only need to follow basic rules to keep your personal information safe online.

Tips to Take Control of Your Online Privacy Back

private sign

1) Recognize Dormant Accounts and Deactivate Them

To get your privacy back online, you must first take steps to make it harder for people to find information about you. The first step in that direction is to close any dormant online accounts you may have. To do this, you can look for traces of accounts you've forgotten in:

  • Web browsers with a built-in password manager
  • Read your past emails.
  • Have I Been Pwned is a website that keeps track of when users' accounts are breached.
  • Google and Facebook profiles and email addresses for sites you permitted to use your login

Once you have a long list of inactive accounts, you can start closing them. First, find out what the service's data deletion policy is. If you can delete everything, you should. Next, check that your information was successfully deleted from the site associated with the date you canceled your service.

2) Take a look at your privacy options

After you've reduced the number of accounts you maintain, the next step is to lessen the amount of information others gather. Most websites and services today let you adjust your privacy settings to limit the information they collect about you. Make sure as many of your account's privacy settings are enabled as possible.

You should know that some sites and services collect data to tailor your experience to your preferences as you use them. Thus, disabling certain data collection forms may affect your interaction with the site or service. 

Unfortunately, You can't always count on getting a clear, easy-to-understand explanation of how each privacy setting works. So, it's best to turn on all of the privacy features of a site or service and test it out to see what happens. If something doesn't seem right, try different settings until you find one that works.

3) Remove and change all passwords

iphone password

Everyone should have figured out now how important it is to use different, strong passwords for each of their online accounts. It acts like a firewall, keeping your other accounts safe in case one of them gets hacked. But if you haven't been keeping up with your password safety, you should change the passwords for all the accounts you plan to keep using.

If you don't already have one, choosing and installing a password manager will help immensely. Many of the generators in these programs take away the need to create new passwords all the time. In addition, using a password manager frees you from having to remember complicated passwords, so you can set the password generator to be as complex as your accounts will let you.

If you often use different devices to log into your accounts, you might want to buy a password manager security key. It will make you safer from hackers and let you use your credentials anywhere.

4) You should ask data brokers to delete your data

When you try to protect your privacy online, one of the hardest things you'll have to deal with is the internet's extended memory. It means that even if you delete something from one site, it might still be online elsewhere. Also, anyone with the right tools can use online public records to get access to a lot of private information.

These kinds of deals are at the heart of what data brokers do. Companies like these only exist to get as much personal information from as many people as possible to make money later by selling this information to people who want it.

All those places that say they can help you find old-school friends? Data aggregators. Who are these online companies that offer instant background check services? Data aggregators. And have you ever wondered why the mailers and ads you get from businesses and groups you've never heard of seem so personalized? We can also thank data brokers for that.

The good news is that you can usually get data brokers to get rid of your information. But it takes a lot of time and works on your part. This open-source list of data brokers and how to stop receiving information from them is a great place to start your search. Even if you do everything on that list, it will be another month before you can Google your name. However, it should tell you which sites still have your information if you want it gone from all of them.

5) Stop Sharing Everything When Online

instagram account

Now you should have a good idea of how hard it is to get rid of your digital footprint on the web. So, you should care a lot about learning how to avoid making the same mistake again. The trick is to learn how to limit what you share online.

First, don't declare your name and email address unless you have to. And if a website makes you create an account before you can use it, you should either not use it or create an account with a fake email address. If you do this, you can be sure that no one will be able to find you through any old accounts.

Second, you should ensure that only close friends and family can see your social media profiles. And you should always think about how you feel about something going public before you put it online. You might not want to share it right away if it doesn't. But, in the long run, it can pay off to be extra careful. Also, you will save yourself a lot of stress in the future about privacy.

To Sum Up

So, that's the end of it. A quick and easy way to get back your online anonymity. The process should go well, and your digital footprint should be small afterward. Then you can go back to using the internet wisely without worrying about who is watching you and what they are doing with the information they collect.

About the Author: Tom
Tom is the founder of DTechClub.com and has been fascinated by VPNs since 2012. He writes about online privacy, is always testing VPNs (both new and existing services), and is highly interested in the challenges of accessing certain sites and content in various regions. In addition to his interest in VPNs, he loves indie films and playing flamenco guitar.
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