I can’t tell you how many messages and emails I’ve gotten over the years asking the same question: “How can I delete myself from the internet?” Sadly, you can’t. Not really.
There’s just too much out there. Data brokerage is a $200 billion industry — and since it’s so big and powerful, you can bet your bottom dollar companies have their hands on a fair bit of information about you. Even if you deleted all of your social media profiles, changed your address and started living off the grid, you wouldn’t be able to go invisible.
Good news: You can make a dent in that mountain of private data companies have on you. An integral part of the process is deleting or hiding your social media accounts.
Most of us overshare on social media — and it hurts us
You may think you’re doing a good job of protecting your privacy on social media. But day by day and post by post, you willingly share enough information for strangers to put together a tapestry of your life.
For example, the photos you share could reveal your location. If you upload a photo of yourself in your home, someone could pinpoint your address through the hidden data in your images.
Bottom line: It’s wild how much someone can learn about you from what you willingly post online. If you truly want to protect your privacy, you need to start deleting or hiding your social media accounts.
Here’s a handy tool that makes it easier
Going through each and every social media account sounds like a total slog. Imagine manually logging into each account, navigating through each privacy tab and deleting everything, piece by piece. It sounds like it would gobble up way too much time.
There’s a much quicker way to clean up your old posts from Twitter, Facebook, Imgur and more. Enter Redact. If you want to wipe out a handful of profiles, this free tool makes it so much easier. You can mass-delete posts, files, images and DMs.
With Redact, you can automatically remove posts from more than 20 sites and apps all in one go. Here are all the services Redact supports:
There’s more in store, though. According to its website, Redact’s team also plans to support Telegram, Messenger, Vimeo, VK Messenger, Medium and Yelp.
Best of all, Redact is 100% free. It’s available for Windows, macOS and Linux.
How secure is it?
You don’t have to worry about Redact storing your private information. It doesn’t log your messages or service credentials. However, it may log user actions, error warnings and events to troubleshoot issues.
You know what Kim always says, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you don’t pay, you’re probably the product.” This doesn’t seem to be the case with Redact.
On its FAQ page, the team says the service is free on desktops devices. It looks like the company will make its money from its upcoming mobile apps, which will charge for premium features. Transparency about money is always appreciated at Komando HQ.
Here’s how it works
Once you download the app onto your computer, click on the icon. It will look like this when it opens up:
You can scroll down and click on the service you want to clean up. For this example, I decided to clean up my Facebook profile. I clicked on the icon, and Redact threw up a
When you log in, you’re still in the Redact app. It shows your full name and icon at the top. Below, there are a few different categories that let you customize the data you want to delete. For instance, you can delete everything within a specific date range.
What if you don’t want to delete everything, but just certain types of posts? Redact has you covered. You can delete likes, comments, posts or even posts and comments. Redact even lets you delete or preserve specific keywords.
new window I used to enter my username and password.
Best of all, Redact lets you preview changes. It’s an excellent way to get a visual idea of exactly what you’re deleting. Preview Mode is just one of four modes, though. To give you as many customization options as possible, you can choose one of these options:
I decided to delete all my likes on Facebook. I chose Deletion Mode, which prompted a pop-up box asking me to confirm. Then I tapped Start Deleting.
It can take a while
At this point, Redact started loading every post I have ever liked on Facebook and deleting them in real-time. My screen looked like this:
It may take a while for Redact to delete all your messages. It depends on your network speed. For instance, you might redact three messages every second on your Tumblr account, while Discord or Facebook could be much slower.
Overall, Redact took 18 minutes to delete 2,523 messages. It worked at an average speed of 2.73 messages per second. Imagine how long it would take to do all this by hand. Give it a try and see how much time you save!