When do you know if it’s time to disappear online? While at the offset, one might presume that the only reason someone would want to delete themselves online is for nefarious purposes, that really isn’t the case.
Some are reacting to a breakup, experiencing sudden or not-so-sudden unease about their information being so publicly accessible, or they’re simply trying to reinvent themselves. Others still are only trying to unplug themselves from the addictive elements of a digital life.
One Blogger’s Journey
One blogger’s disenchantment of social media began when, as a portrait photographer during the fledgling days of Facebook, he saw the stirrings of addiction in the teens he was photographing. During downtime between shots, the teens would check their mobile Facebook pages almost every ten seconds, without fail.
Years later the same blogger witnessed a young man on a plane scrolling doggedly through his Instagram feed. Despite the flight attendant’s instructions to turn off the device, he continued his clandestine, vapid perusal even after service had been lost. He was scrolling through blank Instagram pages!
This particular blogger had had enough. He didn’t want to be a participant in what he had come to view as a shallow, mindless time-suck so he nixed all of his social media accounts except for Twitter and LinkedIn.
How to Take the Leap and Unplug Yourself
For some, completely erasing yourself from the web just isn’t feasible. If you’re a modern day professional, like the blogger I mentioned before, maintaining a link to at least one online network is pretty important to being successful.
Whatever your reasons, here’s how to wave the wand and obliviate yourself from the online world.
These instructions are for the Facebook desktop display, not mobile. First, Facebook allows you to download a copy of your Facebook data. If you want to keep your photos, this is a crucial step to remember. Go to “Settings” and under the General Account Settings fields, you’ll find the option to “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
- In the top right hand corner, click on the downward pointing arrow to open a dropdown box of options. These options include “Use Facebook as,” “Create” and “Manage” pages, “Create Ads,” and more.
- Click on “Settings” in this dropdown menu. This will take you to General Account Settings.
- On the left sidebar, click “Security.” This will take you to Security Settings.
- At the bottom of this page you’ll find the option to deactivate your account.
- Once you click on this you’ll be taken to a page that will first verify your intentions, try to make you second guess your intentions, and then run you through a series of questions and options. Go through this list and then click “Confirm.” Your account will be deactivated, but not deleted.
- Click this link to officially delete your Facebook account.
LinkedIn facilitates networking between professionals of every industry. It can be a valuable tool for job searches as well as b2b opportunities, but it’s also one of the biggest social entities online. If you want to be invisible, here’s how to erase yourself from LinkedIn.
- In the top right hand corner, hover over your profile picture. A dropdown box will appear.
- Click on “Privacy & Settings.”
- On the left sidebar, click “Account.” This will bring up a list of privacy control, settings, and password options. There is also a section called “Helpful Links.”
- Select “Close your account” under “Helpful Links.”
- On this page, you’ll be asked for the reason you’re closing your account. Give your reason and click “Continue.”
Google’s fingers are in every virtual pie. G+ is their social pie and if you want to disentangle yourself from its clutches, yet keep your other Google pies, such as email, you’re going to have to jump through some hoops.
- On your Google+ page, click on your profile picture in the top right hand corner.
- This will make a dropdown appear with options to sign out, add an account, or view your account, profile, and privacy settings. Click on “Account.”
- On this page, you will find tabs for “Personal info,” “Security,” “Language,” “Data tools,” “Account history,” and “Help.” Click on “Data tools.”
- Under the “Account management” section of “Data tools,” there are three delete options:
- Delete Google+ profile and features. This will bring you to a page explaining all that this deletion option will entail. You’ll be asked to verify that you understand that all deleted info can’t be recovered, then select “Remove selected service.”
- Delete account and data. This deletes the whole gambit of Google’s services. You will be asked to verify that you understand that each listed service and all attached data will be permanently deleted. This includes Google Adwords, Blogger, Google Chrome Sync, Web History, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Docs, and YouTube. You’ll be asked to provide your password, then click “Delete Google Account.”
- Delete products. This will give you a list of products that you can permanently delete.
The blogger mentioned before chose to keep his Twitter account because, unlike his Facebook feed, there was no hope of keeping on top of his Twitter feed, so he wasn’t worried about the time-suck potential. However, if you choose to shut down your Twitter account, here’s how.
- Click on the gear in the top right hand corner of the page.
- Select “Settings” from the dropdown menu.
- Click the link “Deactivate my account” at the bottom of the page.
- This will take you to a page that will explain what happens after the account is deactivated. Click “Deactivate @[yourtwittername].”
Have you ever considered deleting any of your social accounts? Have you actually deleted any of them? What was your greatest motivator in doing so? Share in the comments!
“How to Delete Yourself Online | Infographic.” http://theultralinx.com/2014/07/delete-online-infographic.html. (July 15, 2014.)
Tarantola, Andrew. “How to Erase Yourself from the Internet.” http://gizmodo.com/how-to-erase-yourself-from-the-internet-1456270634. (July 15, 2014.)