5 Tips for Protecting Your Privacy Online
Today, almost everything we do online involves companies collecting personal information about us. Personal data is collected and regularly used for a number of reasons – like when you use social media accounts, when you shop online or redeem digital coupons at the store, or when you search the internet.
Sometimes, information is collected about you by one company, and then shared or sold to another. While data collection can offer benefits to both you and businesses – like connecting with friends, getting directions, or sales promotions – it can also be used in ways that are intrusive – unless you take control.
There are many ways you can protect your personal data and information and control how it is shared and used. On this Data Privacy Day – recognized annually on January 28 to mark the anniversary of Convention 108, the first binding international treaty to protect personal data– the Future of Privacy Forum and other organizations are raising awareness and promoting best practices for data privacy.
For the second year in a row, FPF is partnering with Snap to provide a privacy-themed Snap filter to spread awareness of the importance of data privacy to your networks. Scan the Snapcode below to check it out:
Share the pictures you took using our interactive lens on social media using the hashtag #FPFDataPrivacyDay2022.
You should know that there are steps you can take to better protect your privacy online. Below, we’ve listed five tips you can follow to better protect your privacy when using your mobile device.
1. Check Your Privacy Settings
Many social media sites include options on how you can tailor your privacy settings to limit the ways data is collected or used. Snap provides privacy options that control who can contact you, and many other options. Start with the Snap Privacy Center to review your settings. You can find those choices here.
Snap provides options for you to view any data they have collected about you, including the date your account was created and the devices that have access to your account. Downloading your data allows you to view the types of information that has been collected and modify your settings accordingly.
Instagram allows you to manage a variety of privacy settings, including who has access to your posts, who can comment on or like your post, and manage what happens to posts after you delete them. You can view and change your settings here.
TikTok allows you to decide between public and private accounts, decide which accounts can view posted videos, and allows you to change your personalized ad settings. You can check your settings here.
Twitter allows you to manage if they share your information with third-party businesses, if the site can track your internet browsing outside of Twitter, and allows you to choose if you’d like ads to be tailored to you. Check your settings here.
Facebook provides a range of privacy settings that can be found here.
What other apps do you use often? Check to see which settings they provide!
2. Limit Sharing of Location Data
Most social media sites will ask for access to your location data. Do they need it for some reason that is obvious, like helping you with directions or showing your nearby friends? Feel free to say no. And be aware that location data is often used to tailor ads and recommendations based on locations you have recently visited. Allowing access to location services may also permit the sharing of location information with third-parties.
Snap has a variety of ways to control who is able to view your location. On their settings page, you can select whether no one, just select users, or all friends will be able to view your location on Snap Map. You can also choose to deny individual users from viewing your location.
To check the location permissions allowed to social media sites on an iPhone or Android, follow the below steps.
- Navigate to “Settings,” then “Privacy,” and then “Location Services”
- Search for each social media service downloaded on your phone
- Open each and make sure “Never” is selected or only “While Using”.
- Navigate to “Settings”, then “Location,” and then “App Permissions”
- Select the social media app you’d like to prevent from accessing your location
- Make sure “Don’t Allow” is selected or “Allow only while using the app”.
3. Keep Your Devices & Apps Up to Date
Keeping software current and up to date is the only way to make sure that your device is protected against the latest software vulnerabilities. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system installed is the best way to protect against various online threats. By enabling automatic updates on your devices, you can be sure that your apps and operating system are always up to date.
Users can check the status of their operating systems in the settings app. For iPhone users, navigate to “Software Update,” and for Android devices, look for the “Security” page in settings.
4. Use a Password Manager
Utilizing a strong and secure password for each web-based account you have helps ensure personal data and information are protected from unauthorized use. It can be difficult to remember complex passwords for every account and using a password manager can help. Password managers save passwords as you create and log in to your accounts, often alerting you of any duplicates and suggesting the creation of a stronger password. For example, when signing up for new accounts and services, if you use an Apple product, you can allow your iPhone, Mac, or iPad to generate strong passwords and safely store them in iCloud Keychain for later access. Some of the best third-party password managers can be found here.
5. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of protection to your accounts. The first authentication is the normal username and password combination that has been used for years. The second factor is either a text message or email including a code that is sent to a personal device. This added step makes it harder for malicious actors to gain access to your accounts. Two-factor authentication only adds a few seconds to your day, but can save you from the headache and harm that comes from compromised accounts. To be even safer, use an authenticator app as your second factor.
As many of us continue to work and learn remotely, it’s important to stay aware of the information you share on and offline. Remember to adjust your settings regularly, staying on top of any privacy changes and updates made on the web applications you use daily. Take charge of protecting your personal data and encourage others to look at the information they may be sharing. By adjusting your settings and making changes to your web accounts and devices, you can better maintain the security and privacy of your personal data.
If you’re interested in learning more about one of the topics discussed here or about other issues that are driving the future of privacy, sign up for our monthly briefing, check out one of our upcoming events, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. FPF brings together some of the top minds in privacy to discuss how we can all benefit from the insights gained from data, while respecting the individual right to privacy.