By Dave Johnson for Business Insider US
If you use the Internet in any capacity, your personal information is scattered everywhere online. You can get a sense of this by Googling your own name — you leave small traces of yourself with social media, online purchases, e-mail accounts, and more.
How to delete yourself from the Internet
It’s not easy, but it’s possible to erase most of your personal information footprint from the Internet. It might not even be advisable; employers, for example, expect to be able to find you online and may perform a background check, in part, with online searches. But if you’re intent on deleting yourself from the Internet, here’s how you can do it.
- Remove yourself from social media
Your social media presence has the largest impact on your online footprint, so you should start here. It’s important to delete your accounts, not just log out or stop using them. Virtually all social media platforms have a formal process for closing your account. For example, see our article on how to deactivate your Facebook account. Visit every social media site you’ve used — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, and so on, and repeat the removal process. Most will completely delete your content within a short time, such as 30 days.
If you’re not ready to commit to deleting all your social media, you can make your accounts private on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Delete yourself from people-finder and data collection sites
Data collection sites — more commonly referred to as people-finder sites — make it their business to store enormous amounts of data about everyone, and a quick search probably shows that sites like Spokeo, Whitepages, and BeenVerified know who you are (and will sell that information to anyone who wants it). That’s barely half the problem because these data collectors don’t just sell data directly online — their primary business model is selling vast quantities of data to large organisations.
You can manually delete yourself from these sites one at a time (many have opt-out pages, like this one at Spokeo) but it’s a Sisyphean task. You can hire an online service like Delete Me or Privacy Duck to do that for you. Be aware, it’s not cheap. Delete Me costs $129 per year, while Privacy Duck starts at $500 per year. And you’ll want an ongoing subscription because deleting your content from data collection sites is often only temporary, and you can find yourself reappearing in their database months later.
Depending on where you live, you might have additional legal options.
- Delete your online shopping accounts
The same is true for online retailers. Every website where you have made a purchase keeps some record and profile of you, so you should visit each site, such as Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, and anywhere else you have created an account and request deletion. Many retailers don’t include a link anywhere on their site for this. If you can’t find one, reach out to customer service. For example, you can contact Amazon’s customer service to request your account be deactivated and deleted.
- Remove old forum posts, comments, and discussions
If you’ve gotten this far, your online presence is now probably fairly thin. But don’t forget about any presence you’ve left on websites in the form of comments, discussions, and forum posts. These will be the most difficult to remove, though — there’s no standard way to remove comments from a forum or at the bottom of any article, so your only viable option is to reach out to the website’s owner or site manager and request your content be deleted.
- Deactivate your e-mail accounts
You’ll want to save this one for last, because you may need e-mail to stay in touch with websites you are trying to remove yourself from. But if you truly want to wipe your online presence clean, you will have to deactivate and delete your e-mail accounts as well.
This is where deleting yourself from the Internet may be wildly impractical — virtually everyone needs an e=mail account to exist in the 21st century. But you can remove all but one account, perhaps, and make that your single conduit to the Internet. Every e-mail service has a different way to deactivate accounts.
By Chris Welch for The Verge
Twitter is sending out emails to owners of inactive accounts with a warning: sign in by December 11th, or your account will be history and its username will be up for grabs again. Any account that hasn’t signed in for more than six months will receive the email alert.
“As part of our commitment to serve the public conversation, we’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter. Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log-in and use Twitter when they register an account, as stated in our inactive accounts policy,” a spokesperson told The Verge by email. “We have begun proactive outreach to many accounts who have not logged into Twitter in over six months to inform them that their accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.”
Twitter hasn’t yet said exactly when recouped usernames will be made available to existing users. The account removal process “will happen over many months — not just on a single day,” according to the spokesperson. So don’t expect some massive username rush to happen on December 12th. It might be awhile.
This doesn’t just affect people who’ve abandoned Twitter; it also stands to have an enormous impact on accounts belonging to the deceased. The Verge has asked Twitter whether those will also be pulled into the inactive pool and ultimately removed as part of this process. “We do not currently have a way to memorialise someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, but the team is thinking about ways to do this,” the spokesperson said.
This might be your best chance to preserve tweets from deceased loved ones
If you’ve set up a bot or another secondary account, you should be safe as long as it’s stayed active. The BBC’s Dave Lee reported on the username cleanup. It’s not unusual for huge online platforms to do this from time to time. Yahoo launched an “account recycling” effort in 2013, though some people who grabbed inactive usernames wound up receiving email intended for the old account holder.
Keep in mind that these accounts don’t have to actually tweet anything to stick around. They just have to log in and follow Twitter’s instructions. So even if the username you want seems long dormant based on activity, whoever owns it can still hold on to the username pretty easily.
Also, usernames with under five characters can no longer be registered on Twitter, so that’s another thing to consider when dreaming about switching to that username you’ve always wanted. The username some other fool is failing to put to good use.
The email being sent out has a subject line of “Don’t lose access to @(username).” Here’s what it says:
So which username will you be going for? Actually, probably best to keep that to yourself until it’s locked in.
Standard Bank has denied that it has opened a bank account associated with the Gupta family.
It was reported earlier on Tuesday that the top-4 bank had agreed to open bank accounts for business rescue practitioners controlling seven Gupta companies.
However, Standard Banks spokesperson Ross Lindstrom has said the bank terminated all dealings with the Gupta family and all entities controlled by it with effect from June 2016, and that that decision still stood.
Earlier, business rescue practitioner Louis Klopper confirmed that Standard Bank had agreed to open a new account‚ with strict conditions limiting access only to Klopper and his partner practitioner‚ Kurt Knoop.
Klopper said this had been a crucial stumbling block to getting the Gupta companies‚ particularly the four mines owned by the family‚ back up and running.
However, in an e-mail to Business Day, Linstrom said on behalf of the bank: “Standard Bank of SA has not opened and will not open accounts with these companies. Any impression created to the contrary was created by an employee that was acting out of mandate.
“Communication between the employee and [Klopper] was not authorised and did not follow the internal processes of the bank. Disciplinary procedures are currently under way.”
The Gupta family has had to make do with facilities at the Bank of Baroda — a relationship that has deteriorated since the bank started to come under pressure from the Reserve Bank over the large number of suspicious transactions the Gupta family were processing.
On February 16 the directors of Gupta-owned Tegeta filed for business rescue‚ placing Optimum‚ Koornfontein and Brakfontein coal mines in Mpumalanga, as well as Shiva Uranium in the North West, under Klopper’s control.
Property investment companies Confident Concepts and Islandsite Investments 180 were also placed under business rescue.
The mines employ roughly 3 000 people‚ most of whom went on strike when salaries were not paid on February 25. The permanent staff‚ about 1 500 people‚ were paid last week.
By Kyle Cowan for Business Day
Traditionally, teenagers who needed to buy notebooks or new sneakers on Amazon either had to ask their parents to do it for them, or log onto their parents’ account, where Mom and Dad’s viewing history would be on full display (“Fifty Shades Darker? Eww, Mother!”)
Amazon never really had clear rules regarding a minimum age for making purchases, simply stating in its service terms that anyone under 18 “may use the Amazon Services only with involvement of a parent or guardian,” and that you must be 21 to buy alcohol.
Now Amazon is giving teens ages 13 to 17 more autonomy – and let’s be real, hooking them onto the colossal shopping catalog early – by introducing teen accounts.
Parents choose a payment method and shipping address, and decide whether they want to be able to approve every order their teen makes or set a pre-approved spending limit. Then, to start shopping, teens must download the Amazon app, and create a login.
When they’re about to buy something, their parents will receive a text or email with the item, price and an optional note from their kid, saying something like, “Dad, can I get these pants for my ski trip?” or “I really, really need glitter slime.” Parents can reply “Y” for yes, or they can review the order further on the site.
Parents with Prime membership can share “select benefits” with their teen, including free two-day shipping on more than 50 million items, Prime Video and Twitch Prime. Teens and parents can sign up for a teen account at amazon.com/forteens.
By Michelle Woo for Lifehacker
PayPal, a leading global payments company, announced that four years after a landmark deal with First National Bank made it possible for people and businesses in South Africa to make and accept PayPal payments, more than 1-million accounts have now been opened.