Facebook comments, Tweets and photos take on a life of their own online. But it's possible to remove them and delete your online presence. We explain how
The internet provides many ways to share experiences and opinions via social networking, but it’s not as easy to ‘unshare’ them, should you change your mind. In some cases it’s practically impossible, so the first and most important advice we can give is to be careful what you say.
The safest approach is to act as though any photo, video, email, Facebook status update, Tweet – a message sent in Twitter – or blog post could eventually be seen by anyone. In short, if you wouldn’t say or show it in a public place, it’s wise not to post it online.
This restrictive approach works, but it could prevent you enjoying social networks to the full. Take a more relaxed approach, however, and it’s easy to slip up, so we’ll first look in detail at how to ‘unpublish’ your own posts from some of the most common services, starting with Facebook.
Remove content from Facebook
It’s possible to remove content you post to Facebook, although the exact method varies. Status updates, and comments on your own or other people’s updates can be removed by moving the mouse pointer over them, at which point you should see either a cross or a downward-pointing arrow appear to the right of the update.
Clicking this will either remove the comment directly, or display a menu containing an option to delete the update.
To delete photos, visit your own profile and click on the Photos link under your profile picture, which will display any photo albums you’ve created.
To delete a photo, click the album that it’s in and click the offending photo.Then click the downward arrow next to the gear-wheel icon in the top right of the page and select Delete this photo.
To delete an entire album, select the album from your Photos page, click the Edit album link and click Delete album in the window that appears.
Delete an email from Outbox, or a post from Google+ and Twitter
Google+ users can delete content in much the same way. Click on your profile picture to see your own posts: at the top right of each is a small downward arrow that, when clicked, displays a menu that includes the option Delete this post.
To delete a photo, click the photo icon in the navigation bar near the top of the page. Then use the links at the left to choose between photos from your posts or albums.
To delete a photo album, click that album, click the Options button and select Delete album. To delete a specific photo, click that photo, click the Options link at the bottom of the viewer and select Delete photo.
For its part, Twitter can be used with many different ‘client’ applications, some of which allow you to delete your own Tweets. If yours doesn’t or if you can’t see how to, visit the Twitter website, log in and click the Tweets link (displayed with the total number of Tweets you’ve published, near the top left of the page) to see your own Tweets.
Scroll down to the one you wish to delete and hover the mouse pointer over it to make several options appear, including Delete.
Unfortunately, the nature of email means it’s almost impossible to delete an email message once it has been sent. However, if you’re using email software and realise that you’ve just addressed a message to the wrong person or written something inappropriate, look immediately in the email program’s Outbox folder.
Depending on your email setup the message may still be there. Immediately double-click it to open it for more editing, which will prevent it being sent.
The methods above remove offending content from your own profile. It’s certainly a good place to start, but unless you act immediately the chances are that a follower or contact will already have seen it: don’t assume that your slip-up went entirely unnoticed.
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