How to erase yourself from the Internet

We explain how you can reduce your digital footprint by deleting your Google or Facebook account and having search results, forum entries, and blog posts removed.

Björn GreifEditor

Every Internet user leaves a digital footprint online – and the Internet does not forget! But you can have confidential or unwanted information removed from the web. This could be personal data, embarrassing photos, forum entries, blog posts or entire social media profiles. We will give you some tips on how to erase yourself from the Internet or at least reduce your digital footprint.

If you want to delete your complete profile or your account for a service, you should first search for a corresponding option in the account settings. It can usually be found under menu items such as “Privacy” or “Security”.

Delete your Google account or a Google service

Google offers the option of removing a specific service from your Google account or deleting your entire Google account. If you delete only a specific service such as Gmail or YouTube from your Google account, only the associated data will be removed. If you really want to erase all your data stored with Google, you’ll have to delete your entire account. For a step-by-step guide on how to do this, please see our illustrated step-by-step guide.

Delete Google account confirmation

Delete or deactivate your Facebook account

Like Google, Facebook also stores vast amounts of data about its users. The social network offers you two options in the settings: you can temporarily deactivate your Facebook account or permanently delete it. Our step-by-step guide explains exactly how to do this and what you need to consider.

Delete Facebook account confirmation

Deleting your Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, Paypal, Skype, Xing, or LinkedIn account works similar as with Google and Facebook. Often the account is initially only deactivated before the data is finally deleted after a certain period of time.

Delete forum entries and blog posts

To have an old forum entry or blog post removed, you must contact the respective website operator directly. The required contact information can usually be found on the website under “Imprint”, “About us” or “Contact”. Alternatively, you can search who.is or whois.icann.org for contact information for a domain.

In a politely phrased request, you should argue conclusively why you want a post to be removed. Private site operators are not obliged to remove such content. Therefore, many refuse to delete content, but often offer at least anonymization, so that your name no longer appears in the posting in question.

Remove items from search results and cache

If you want to prevent certain personal information from being accessible through search results, you can request search engine operators to remove the results from their index. Google, Microsoft Bing and Cliqz each offer their own online forms for this purpose.

Delete Google search results

Note, however, that making a request does not guarantee the search result to be removed automatically. For example, Cliqz will always balance individual privacy rights with public interest and free access to information. If you have any questions about this, our support team will be happy to help.

In addition to search engine indexes, you can also have your data removed from Google’s and Bing’s cache. This way you can prevent personal information from being found even though it has already been deleted from the source pages. Both Google and Bing provide their own tools for this purpose.

Delete Google Cache entry

Data deletion as a service

If you don’t have the time or shy away from the effort of contacting all website operators yourself, in order to ask them to delete your data, you can also call on the help of specialized agencies. For a fee, they will take over the research and communication with the site operators and arrange the deletion of the content in question on behalf of their client.

If requested, these agencies also regularly check whether previously deleted data has appeared on the web again. However, they have no more powerful means at their disposal than a private individual, which is why success cannot be guaranteed here either.

Data economy and tracking protection

In the end, you must be aware that you cannot completely erase yourself from the Internet. Therefore, you should generally think carefully about what you reveal about yourself online.

Even if you’ve deleted your account and decided not to use any of Google’s and Facebook’s services or products, you are still likely to be monitored by these companies through their tracking scripts that are embedded on almost all web pages. If you really want to hide your online activities from data collectors, an anti-tracking tool such as Ghostery or the Cliqz Browser with built-in tracking protection is strongly recommended: