How Well Do You Understand Privacy Settings?

How often do you review the privacy settings on apps, social networks, or even search engines? If you’re like most Internet users, it’s probably not very frequently, but you should be if you’re at all concerned about your personal information being shared.

Social Networks

Did you know Facebook allows users to look up other users by their phone numbers? If not, you likely have this turned on in your privacy settings and weren’t even aware of it! Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all have user-controlled privacy settings, meaning that you have the power to control who sees what you post. Sites like Facebook, which also lets you connect apps, also allow you the ability to control what information the apps can use, and some may be using a lot more than you think. Always check your social media privacy settings periodically to make sure information you don’t want public isn’t being shared without your knowledge.

Search Engines

By now most people are aware that search engine sites, like Google, collect cookies and track your search history. If you’re worried about this there are a few solutions to help you control what is shared:

  1. Sign out of Google when you’re done. It sounds simple, but signing out disables Google from recognizing that you are using that browser. Google will still be able to see your IP address, however.
  2. Turn on private browsing, or “incognito mode.” which makes the pages you search not show up on your browser or search history. Even in “incognito mode” however, websites may still collect or share information about you. In Firefox you can turn on the “do no track” setting, which will erase your cookies after you close the window.
  3. Adjust your Google Web History Settings. By going into the Google Dashboard and looking at the privacy settings, you can adjust the amount of information Google collects.
  4. Still not satisfied? Use a search engine like DuckDuckGo which claims that it will not track you.

Mobile/Location Services

Today’s mobile devices are getting more advance, and this can be both good and bad. Things like mobile/location services can be turned on without you being aware, which allows apps the ability to see your location as long as you are in cellular service. If you've granted them permission at installation, apps on your phone can also access your mobile/location services. It’s always good to go into your devices settings and double-check to see what apps have access to your location. You also have the ability to turn off location settings altogether, but you'll need to reenable them for specific applications, such as driving directions.

Want to learn more on specific sites privacy settings?

Check Your Privacy Settings, https://www.staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day/check-your-privacy-setti...

5 Ways to Keep Your Google Browsing Private, http://readwrite.com/2012/04/03/5_ways_to_keep_your_google_browsing_private

Smartphone Privacy Settings You Need To Activate Today, http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/smartphone-privacy-settings-need-activate-t...