How to eliminate your ex from your digital life, forever!
Best key privacy protection measures you can take to break up with your ex's tech.
From GPS tracking to account security, managing technology after a dangerous breakup can be a scary and frustrating exercise in digital survival. Genuine stalkerware needs to be handled carefully if you're concerned that gaining digital independence from an abusive person could anger them and endanger you further. Even if you haven't found stalkerware on your phone or computer, you should consider taking the following steps to improve your personal safety if you are concerned an abusive ex may have access to your online life.
We urge caution here. There could be risks associated with revoking an abusive person's access to your accounts and devices. You should consult with domestic violence services if you think you're in danger. In their digital safety checklist, the Coalition Against Stalkerware advises caution when removing suspected stalkerware.
"If you delete stalkerware, whoever installed it would know that it's been disabled. So it's important to understand that before taking any action, and to have a safety plan ready. One of the points of this plan may be: contact organizations working with victims of domestic violence," the coalition writes.
Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity policy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, helps people who are concerned a partner or ex might be accessing their data. "The good news when it comes to account security is, we have things that we can tell people to do," she said at a presentation on her work in January.
Also be aware that anyone with access to your web history could later be able to see that you've viewed this page, so consider clearing your internet history before logging off. If you need a hand, check out our explainer on how to delete your Google history.
Disable GPS tracking
If you share a joint phone account with your ex, you'll need to talk with your service provider about removing your ex from the account or, at the very least, ensuring your ex doesn't have access to network-provided location tracking services such as those available with the AT&T FamilyMap service.
The service only works for mobile phone lines on the same billing account or that have the Secure Family Companion app installed and paired with the parent device, according to a spokesperson from AT&T.
"Any device that is part of the group receives a monthly reminder text message that they have the service, which includes the parent device phone number," the spokesperson said. "Uninstalling the companion app and turning off location sharing on their device would prevent their location from appearing in the parent app."
The Find My app (formerly Find My Friends) from Apple can also be used to stalk family members. If you have this app installed, you might want to uninstall or disable it to prevent location data from getting out further. If you set up Family Sharing and use Location Sharing, your family members automatically appear in the People tab.
To see people with whom you are sharing your location, go to the People tab in Find My. When someone shares their location with you, you can choose to share your location back or not.
There are two ways to stop sharing your location. You can stop sharing with everyone by turning off Share My Location in the Me tab. Or you can stop sharing your location with a particular person by selecting Stop Sharing My Location in the People tab.
If you stop sharing your location in Find My, the person won't receive a notification, but they won't be able to see you on their list of friends. If you re-enable sharing, they get a notification that you've started sharing your location with them.
Notably, if you delete an iMessage conversation you've had with someone who you've also shared your location with, iMessage will also prompt you with a dialogue box asking if you would like to stop sharing your location.
If you still have access to all of your social media accounts, avoid checking into businesses or locations you visit while using those apps. Don't add your location to your tweets or your Facebook and Instagram posts when prompted. Make sure your phone's GPS feature is turned off, and then review your phone's list of GPS-enabled apps.
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