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How to Remove Personal Information from the Internet: 13-Step Guide

September 4, 2023

Follow our guide to learn how to remove personal information from the internet. Doing so will help you protect your online presence and improve your data privacy. It will also help you reduce personal and cybersecurity risks like doxxing, phishing, and identity theft. 

How to Remove Personal Information from the Internet

Here are 13 ways to remove your personal information from the internet.

1. Opt out of data brokers and people search sites

Data brokers and people search sites are companies that collect and sell your personally identifiable information or PII (full name, home address, etc.) on the internet. They gather data from various online and offline sources to create comprehensive profiles about individuals and then sell these profiles to third parties, including other people, advertisers, insurers, law enforcement agencies, and employers. 

Because few data brokers vet their customers, your private information can also end up in the hands of cybercriminals and scammers. 

Data broker profiles are inexpensive and can cost as little as $1. Some data brokers also offer their information for free. Here’s what a typical data broker profile looks like:

Data broker profile

Notice the amount of personal info available within a single report on an individual, everything from contact details to court records and family member information. 

Finding these reports isn’t difficult, either. Often, data broker profiles appear on the first page of Google (or another search engine) when someone looks up your name. 

Fortunately, you can opt out of most data brokers to minimize your digital footprint. Our opt out guides walk you through how to do exactly that. 

Some of our most popular guides include:

Note: Most data brokers will add more information about you to their database even after you opt out when they find more data on you. For this reason, you must opt out of data brokers regularly. If you’d rather not have to opt out from data brokers yourself, you can subscribe to a data broker removal service like DeleteMe, which can remove your personal information from data broker sites for you. 

2. Make your social media accounts private

One of the first few results likely to come up when someone searches your name online is social media profiles. 

Pretty harmless, right? 

Not quite. The information that you’ve voluntarily shared on social media platforms (whether in your profile, posts, or comments) can be used to harass you, carry out identity theft (for example, that photo you shared of your pet can help a cybercriminal answer a security question), phish you, spoof you, and so on. 

News headline about social media impersonation arrest

While the best thing for your privacy would be to delete your social media accounts (not a realistic option for most people), the second best thing is to adjust the privacy settings of your social media accounts to restrict who can access your information. Limit the visibility of your posts, photos, and personal details to approved connections only, and be careful who you accept as a friend. 

Also, don’t feel obliged to share your personal information in your bio. Keep private details like your address, phone number, and date of birth to yourself. 

Facebook "About" section overview

Here are quick links to manage your account and online privacy settings on popular social media sites:

3. Deactivate or delete your shopping accounts

Your online shopping accounts contain a wealth of personal information. 

Whether it’s a scammer who finds your Amazon wish list and uses it to take over your digital identity, a cyber criminal who hacks into an e-commerce store and steals your bank account and credit card information, or a data broker that buys your shopping history from retailers, the personal information within your shopping accounts puts you at risk. 

Here’s how someone’s Amazon review exposed them to a phishing scam:

Reddit post with screenshot of Amazon review scam

Your online shopping accounts are also a way for companies to show you even more targeted ads. Retail and online companies such as Amazon store your purchase data when you use their app or log in to their website and use the information to pitch products to you. 

Delete or deactivate accounts on e-commerce websites you no longer use to prevent your data from being potentially misused.

Possible e-commerce accounts you may want to delete include:

Tip: To find old e-commerce accounts you signed up for but can’t remember, look for old emails. In your email, search for terms like “new account,” “confirm your email,” “welcome,” etc. 

You should also consider if there are any loyalty or rewards programs that you may have signed up for that you aren’t benefiting from. Canceling these accounts will close another window that brokers, hackers, marketers, and other third parties have to your data.

4. Close other unused accounts

If you’ve spent some time exploring and using the internet, you’ve probably opened a lot of online accounts at various websites – some of which you don’t need to have open anymore. 

Consider old dating sites that you no longer need, photo sharing services that have become obsolete, or wedding registry sites that may still be up and available to data brokers. Close any that you don’t need. 

Businesses and websites that go out of popularity or close may consolidate with newer websites – bringing your private data and profile pics with them. From there, they can be sold or repurposed by other unknown parties. It’s how parents have, time and time again, found photos of their children in completely unexpected places online after making one-time uploads years ago. Cleaning up your digital tracks is the best way to prevent those kinds of unhappy surprises. 

Tip: Use Terms of Service; Didn’t Read to see which websites and online services are the best and worst from a privacy perspective. 

5. Delete your personal information from forums 

It’s worth thinking back on the different forums, bulletin boards, and other community sites you’ve participated in. Many are likely to include your personal details and publicly visible email accounts (whether in your profile or your posts). 

If it’s a site or account you aren’t using anymore, hide or delete it to eliminate that trail. If you’re actively using an online forum or community site, scrub your profile of personal information to maintain your anonymity.

As one online user will tell you, it’s also a good idea to use a nondescript profile picture:  

Reddit comment about someone recognizing their neighbor online from their profile picture of their dog

Tip: Some people create multiple accounts on a forum they use frequently. This lets them separate their interests and prevents certain conversations from being linked to their main account. 

6. Delete your website or blog

This one’s easy – If you have a personal website or blog that contains sensitive information, consider taking it down or making it private. The information you’ve shared has probably already been scraped by data brokers, but at least it won’t be findable through a simple Google search.  

If your posts were reposted by other websites (such as Medium publications) or blogs, you can reach out to individual publications and request to have the content removed. 

Remember: Popular and long-standing sites are likely to be in the Internet Archive even after they are deleted. If you find your website or blog here, you may be able to have it taken down by sending a copyright infringement notice to

7. Contact site owners directly about personal information that appears on their site

Sometimes, your personal information may appear on websites owned by others. In these cases, your best course of action is to contact the website owner and request that it be removed.

Website owners can generally be reached through contact forms or email addresses on their site (look for “Contact Us” or “About Us” in the menu tab). If you don’t see either of those options, you can use Whois to determine the contact information for the “admin” or “registrant” of the website.

8. Request to delete personal information from Google Search results

If you can’t remove your personal information from a specific site, you may be able to at least remove it from Google Search results. 

Individuals can request Google to remove certain personal information from Search if it threatens their privacy and safety. 

Examples of data you can ask Google to remove include your contact information, financial details, ID numbers, explicit or intimate images, photos of handwritten signatures, private documents, medical records, and login credentials. 

You can ask Google to remove your personal data from Search in three ways. 

The quickest and easiest one is probably directly from Search and involves the following steps:

  1. Google yourself.
  2. Find the result you want to remove. 
  3. Click the three dot icon beside the result.
  4. Click “Remove result.”
  5. Choose a reason for removal from a list of options (contact info with intent to harm, personal info, illegal info, outdated content). 
Google personal information removal form
  1. Share more information. 
  2. Click “Continue.”
  3. Send the removal request by clicking “Send.”

Alternatively, you can use the Request to Remove Personal Information form.

Google also recently introduced a new “Results about you” dashboard where users can see if their contact details appear on Search and ask for these details to be removed directly from the dashboard. 

We go through each method in more detail in a separate blog on how to remove personal information from Google.

Remember: Deleting your personal information in this way only removes it from Search results, not the actual web page where your data is located. Your information will also still appear on other search engines. 

9. Email companies to ask them to delete your personal data

You can ask individual companies you’ve had dealings with (such as Uber, Spotify, etc.) to remove your personal information. Some companies outline the steps necessary to remove your data from their records in their privacy policies, but others will require an email or form. 

If you’re writing an email to a company, make sure to be clear that you’re making a data deletion request and wish for all of your personal details to be removed from their system. 

Those who live in California and other states with privacy laws will have the best success with this approach. Note that there are exceptions where businesses can retain your personal information. 

CCPA section on requesting businesses to remove your personal information

10. Make public records private

As a matter of practice, courthouses make records (including litigation, property ownership, and more) public and accessible via online or in-house databases.

You can potentially remove such records from online databases by contacting the courthouse hosting the information. 

The process for requesting that your records be shifted from public to private will vary from courthouse to courthouse, but you can expect that you’ll need to make the case that your safety concerns are significant enough to outweigh the need for records to be kept public.

11. Remove images from Google Maps

Google Maps is an excellent resource for getting where you need to go, but did you know it could contain publicly accessible images of your house, car, and license plate? 

To find out if your property is viewable via the Google Maps service:

  1. Go to the app on your Android or iOS device or visit the website on your computer.
  2. Type in your address.
  3. On the bottom left side of the screen, click on the photo of your house. 
Google Maps - specific address
  1. If what you see alarms you due to potentially identifying information, click the three dot icon on the upper right side of the screen and select the “Report a Problem” button. 
Report a problem on Google Maps

From there, you can request to have parts of the image blurred, removing it from the eyes of potentially nefarious viewers. 

12. Delete apps you don’t use

With the millions of apps out there, it’s easy to accumulate a few dozen on your device. What you need to be mindful of is that even apps that you’ve installed and only used once can be collecting information about you – and then selling your details to third parties like data brokers. 

Even if they aren’t outright selling your data, obsolete apps can be prone to data breaches. Because of this, it’s important to delete any apps you don’t use.

For apps you’ll continue to use, check your device’s privacy settings to verify that any tracking or data collection features for that app are turned off. 

Some apps have additional settings or features within them, such as Chrome, which enables you to clear your search history (read our guide on how to clear Google search history to learn more). It’s worth looking into each app’s options to preserve your personal data. 

Here’s how to check app permissions on Android

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click “Apps.”
  3. Select the app you are interested in.
  4. Click “Permissions.”
Permissions for Reminder app

Here’s how to check app permissions on iOS:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click “Privacy & Security.” 
  3. Click “App Privacy Report.” 

Here’s how to check app permissions on Windows:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click “Privacy & security.”
  3. Scroll down to App permissions.
  4. Click on different permissions (location, camera, etc.) to see what apps can access them. 

Here’s how to check app permissions on macOS:

  1. Go to the Apple menu.
  2. Click “System Settings.”
  3. Click “Privacy & Security.”
  4. Click “Accessibility.” 

13. Remove your data from ChatGPT

If you’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT, you should be aware that all of your conversations within the app are, by default, accessible by the tool’s owner (OpenAI). Your chats with the bot can be accessed and read at any time by AI trainers and OpenAI’s employees.

If this makes you uncomfortable, you can turn off chat history in ChatGPT

To do so:

  1. Log into your ChatGPT account.
  2. Click on the three dot icon beside your username in the lower left corner of the screen.
  3. Select “Settings.” 
  4. Click “Data controls” from the left side menu and turn off “Chat history & training.” 
ChatGPT account settings - data control section

Depending on your jurisdiction, you may also be able to fill out ChatGPT’s opt out form, where you can request OpenAI to stop processing your personal information and also ask that it delete AI-generated references about you. 

Note: Not every request may be granted as OpenAI tries to balance privacy requests with freedom of expression. 

Laura Martisiute is DeleteMe’s content marketing specialist. Her job is to help DeleteMe communicate vital privacy information to the people that need it. Since joining DeleteMe in 2020, Laura h…

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