Twenty years ago no one ever thought the internet would become dangerous. The internet gave us endless possibilities to find old friends, start new relationships and search for job opportunities. But with recent cyber attacks and thousands of cases of identity theft, you may now be thinking about removing yourself from the world online.
Now, it won’t be easy, nor will it be possible for everybody. Questions must be asked. Are you willing to change the way you live your life? Delete social media accounts? And become somebody totally different? If you’re interested in any of these, then let’s proceed.
Everyone has some kind of social media account on various platforms these days. It is how you keep in touch with distant relatives or old buddies from college, but if you are looking to disappear from the internet, you will have to delete those accounts- or at least clean them up.
Bradley Shear, a lawyer who specializes in social media and privacy, spoke to The Washington Post to explain good habits to start if you are looking to disappear from the millennial age. “Do not use any electronic device that can lead back to your whereabouts,” he said.
Deleting your social media accounts will disable companies from selling your information; they will still have the information but they can’t sell access that no longer exists.
Another alternative if you don’t want to delete your social media is to simply make a “throw away” account. By throw away, we mean you are making accounts with throw away emails and false birthdays. Having a VPN, or virtual private network, is another strong alternative, Shear explained.
Another option is going after the data brokers. Data brokers are people that buy and sell people’s public information such as addresses, phone numbers or, in this particular cases, social media accounts. Now, it’s important to know that they don’t always sell them for a fee but it can happen, according to Shears.
Websites such as Whitepages, Spokeo and Intelius all offer an “opt-out” program that Shear says can possibly be a scam. “If the site requires you to verify your identity by giving more information about yourself or providing a government ID in order to opt out, don’t do that,” he states.
Another possibility for “going dark” would be not linking multiple social media accounts together. Sure, it may be a simplistic way of combining your favorite websites, but Shear is adamant against it.
“Most apps ask for way too much information,” Shear warned. Does Yelp really need access to your contact list? For that matter, how much do you need that app that requires a ton of access to your phone and data?”
Disappearing from the internet won’t be easy and in some cases it may just be impossible, but for anyone who has the time and will to trudge through the mundane tasks of opting out and deleting social media accounts, we say go for it. Best of luck disappearing.