Posting a comment without thought on social networks can create a world of problems, even if the comment was not intentionally malicious.
Often, postings are done in the heat of the moment, so much so that users often forget the vast audience that might end up seeing them.
"Posting comments online is just like exiting an MRT station - once you tap the ez-link card, you can't have it undone. Even if you find out later it is not the right station, you can't ask for a refund," said Dr Brian Lee, head of the communication programme at SIM University.
Despite strong and tight privacy settings, seemingly private thoughts and observations meant only for friends can easily end up in the public domain.
The situation can be somewhat salvaged by wiping out your Facebook and Twitter presence, but Mr Kristian Olsen, digital lead for public relations company Text 100 Singapore, cautioned that this is not a foolproof solution.
"You can take steps to delete a post but you must remember that the Internet is also 'permanent'. A post that stays up for 30 seconds can be screen-grabbed and shared by anyone on your contact list," he said.
But deleting your online presence is not as simple as it looks. You will need to go through the settings with a fine-tooth comb to remove the crumbs that might fall through the cracks.
If you are at your wits' end when the social network lashes out at you, here are the basic steps to mitigate the damage and remove your social network trail.
1 Once you are logged in to your Facebook account, click on the inverted triangle icon beside “Home”, followed by “Account Settings”.
2 Disconnect apps that are interacting with your Facebook account. Go to Apps and begin the painstaking task of removing all the apps associated with your Facebook account by clicking on the “x” icon beside it.
3 Click on the check box that also deletes all activity of the app on your Facebook account. Note that the app developer might still have your data. You will need to contact the individual developers to request for your data to be removed.
4 Go to Facebook.com/help/delete_account and click on “Delete My Account”. Note that you have up to 14 days to revoke this deletion process by logging on to Facebook.
1 Though Instagram is a mobile app, you will need to access its settings via a Web browser to deactivate the account. Go to Instagram.com and click on your account which is located at the bottom left of the page.
2 Enter your login details and choose “Manage Applications”. Revoke access to all apps associated with Instagram to prevent any accidental log in after you deactivate the account.
3 Click on edit profile and click on “I’d like to delete my account” on the bottom right.
1 Log in to your LinkedIn account and select “Settings” from the drop-down menu on your profile name.
2 Select “Groups, Companies & Applications”, and click on “View your applications”. Remove all applications associated with your LinkedIn account.
3 Click on “Account”, followed by “Close your account”. Your LinkedIn account will be deactivated within the next 24 hours.
1 Log in to your Twitter account, and click on the gear icon. Select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
2 Similar to Facebook, you need to revoke access for apps that are linked to your Twitter account. Click on “Apps” and choose “Revoke access” for the listed apps.
3 Certain apps integrated with Apple iOS, such as Twitter for iPhone and Photos for iOS, cannot be revoked individually. To do that, you will need to locate the iOS app in the list and revoke its access to your Twitter account. Once the iOS app’s access is revoked, apps integrated with iOS will no longer be associated with your Twitter account.
4 Click on “Account” and scroll all the way down until you see “Deactivate my account”. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has a longer grace period of up to 30 days for you to log in and reinstate your account.
ADDITIONAL HOUSEKEEPING TIPS
1. Deleting your accounts from the desktop is just the first step. If you have been using these social networks on your smartphone, delete all social network apps from your smartphones to ensure that you do not log in to them by accident.
2. On your desktop and notebooks, uninstall programs such as Tweetdeck, Twitter for Mac and any others that are directly linked to your social networks.
3. Whenever you sign up for a new online service, such as Pinterest for example, do not connect via Facebook or Twitter, lest it reactivates the social network.
4. Delete stored passwords and cookies linked to the deleted social networks on your Web browser. This applies to the desktop, notebook, tablet and smartphone.
This story was first published on Oct 17, 2012 on StraitsTimes.com. To read more: http://sph.straitstimes.com/supplements/digital-life/story/erasing-your-social-media-presence-20121017