Reddit has 54 million daily active users on the website presenting opinions and hot-takes within the forum-based social media platform.
Reddit also has plenty of inactive or ‘dead’ users. While social media is generally safe and practical it is not without its own problems and often users want to leave a social media website but leave a data trace that is still utilised by the companies marketing permissions.
How many times have you seen that a user is ominously ‘[deleted]’ yet their comment still remains? Read on if you want to find out more about Reddit’s data security history, how to actually delete your own Reddit account, and more information about ‘digital hygiene’ and data security.
As Reddit is a socially-curated, community website, its users present their own experiences and opinions within the relevant ‘subreddit’ whereby other members of the community ‘upvote’ or ‘downvote’ the users’ content.
Platforms such as 4chan and other alternative websites operate similarly yet rely on different community guidelines and content censorship rules.
Naturally, as with any social media website, controversy is seldom far away when socially-curated opinions are unchecked by experts.
For example, the QAnon political movement in the US was born on Reddit, it’s shadowy political leader relied on Reddit’s community system to communicate and engage their followers while leading from behind the digital curtain that Reddit provides.
This is a particular subreddit that has a lot of ‘[deleted]’ users in its ranks, whose comments can still be viewed today.
As with all social media, Reddit has its own data security problems and permissions which its users can alter. Reddit’s data security issues have been exposed in the past, an example is when Reddit removed its ‘warrant canary’ in 2016.
A warrant canary is a statement that discloses whether the company has been given a secret government subpoena to access data within a data transparency report. Reddit’s warrant canary read:
As of January 29, 2015, Reddit has never received a National Security Letter (NSL), an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or any other classified request for user information. If we ever receive such a request, we would seek to let the public know it existed.
Reddit users were quick to notice when the warrant canary was left out, indicating that Reddit had received its own government subpoena to monitor the content on its website.
It’s understandable that Reddit received such a subpoena due to its laissez-faire approach to its users, which creates a home for groups such as QAnon and Dark Web salesmen.
So sometimes data security and government intervention is warranted, but it’s important to understand how you can protect your own data security.
Prior to deletion there are a whole host of permission and preference options that you can access and change to your liking before even considering deactivating an account.
Moreover, practicing good digital hygiene in general, as well as on Reddit, provides you with an important foundation to build security. Beyond these practices, users can also invest in VPNs which can protect data through anonymity and provide extra protection when surfing the web.
What Deletion/Deactivation Means For A Reddit User
Where Reddit differs from other social media websites is that you can’t actually deactivate your account, like you could on YouTube for example, and reactivate it later with all your content still intact. On Reddit, deactivation is the same as deletion, your account will be permanently deleted and become unrecoverable.
What is worth keeping in mind is that your comments don’t get deleted. As previously mentioned, if you have commented on a thread in your favourite subreddit, your comments are not deleted, your comment will remain under a ‘[deleted]’ user.
What Is Digital Hygiene And Why Is It Important?
Digital hygiene is the practice of maintaining digital security through due diligence and a holistic approach to cyber security.
A lot of security breaches online are due to users not practicing good digital hygiene. This involves making sure you are logged off your accounts when replacing an older device, making sure you aren’t still logged into your accounts on your ex-girlfriends laptop, and not using your business email to communicate with your grandparents.
It’s the little things that you forget which lead to data breaches, much like not maintaining a fence or a wall properly will lead to breaches. This protects your physical assets and money as well as your personal data.
How To Manage Your Data Privacy On Reddit
Permanent deletion can be a big step, and if you have a sentimental connection with your account, or you have had it for a long time, you might want to consider these tips and tricks on how to manage your data privacy settings within Reddit before deciding to permanently delete your account.
- Look for ‘Preferences’ above the search bar, or click on your profile picture and select ‘User Settings’ in the drop down menu.
- Select ‘Privacy and Security’.
Within these settings there are a few options which can choose to permit or opt out of:
- Permission for Reddit to use your activity on the site to show more relevant ads.
- Permission for Reddit to use information from third-party websites to provide better ad targeting.
Within Reddit there are other third-party apps that can monitor and change your experience on Reddit. You may have previously allowed a third-party app to monitor your data in the past. If you wish to revoke these apps permissions follow these steps:
- Under ‘Privacy and Security’ select ‘Authorised Applications’.
- Locate the app whose permission you want to change.
- Click ‘Revoke Access’.
By default, Reddit allows your account to be indexed by search engines such as Google, this is a practice worth being aware of as it dictates whether your activity on your account is sold to companies for marketing purposes. Your comments, subreddits you are active on, and more, are up for grabs.
If this setting isn’t turned off, your employer, ex-partner, and basically anyone has access to this information – here’s how to turn it off.
- Select ‘Privacy and Security’.
- Click the slider off next to ‘Search Engine Indexing’
How To Delete Comments On Reddit
In this case, we suggest that you clean your account prior to deletion, to make sure you have left no digital trace on the website – here’s how.
- Find the comment or post you want to delete.
- Select the ellipsis icon (…).
- Select ‘Delete’.
- Click on your profile photo or icon in the top right corner of the screen and select ‘Profile’.
- Select ‘Comments’ from the drop-down menu and see a list of comments you have made.
- Click ‘Delete’ on the comments you wish to remove.
Once you have successfully removed all the comments, or just the comments you wish to remove, then you can proceed to delete your account with the knowledge that there is no digital trace of your account left on the site, creating full-proof protection for your data.
How To Delete Your Account On Reddit Permanently
Now that you have no more digital traces on Reddit, you can delete your account with knowledge that your data is secure – here’s how.
- Login to your Reddit account
- Click on your profile photo or icon in the top right corner of the screen and select ‘User Settings’.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select ‘Deactivate Account’.
- When asked, re-enter your login details, and, if you choose to, provide a reason why you wish to deactivate your account.
- Once you understand your account is permanently deleted and wish to proceed, select ‘Deactivate’.
- You will be asked to click another box labelled ‘Deactivate’ to confirm your deactivation.
- Your Reddit account is now permanently deleted.
If you want to roam Reddit, and the internet at large, with an extra blanket of safety beyond your digital hygiene, a VPN is one way to achieve this. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that acts as a proxy between you and the websites you use.
Firstly, a VPN is encrypted which essentially means that your IP address is falsified so that your real location is secret. While everything on your Reddit page is still linked to your account, the data that goes between you and the website’s server is now anonymous and can’t be accessed for marketing purposes.
Which Virtual Private Network you choose to run on your browser is a different topic entirely. Some are free and offer a certain level of protection, while others are paid and provide features which guarantee your safety.
Paid VPN services also come with the benefit of being able to choose where your IP address is bounced to. Choosing where your IP is bounced enables you to view the geographically specific information relevant to your IP address.
So if you want to do anything from accessing American or British Netflix which have different releases, or simply if you want to listen to the radio specific to the south of France, a VPN is worth investing time and money into.