7 Essential Tips to Protect Your Privacy in 2024
Today, almost everything we do online involves companies collecting personal information about us. Personal data is collected and used for various reasons – like when you use social media, shop online, redeem digital coupons at the store, or browse the internet.
Sometimes, information is collected about you by one company and then shared or sold to another. While data collection can benefit both you and businesses – like connecting with friends, getting directions, or sales promotions – it can also be used in invasive ways unless you take control.
You can protect your personal data and information in many ways and control how it is shared and used. On this Data Privacy Day or Data Protection Day in Europe, 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 (FPF) and other organizations are raising awareness and promoting best practices for data privacy.
FPF is partnering with Snap Inc. to provide a privacy-themed Snapchat filter to spread awareness of the importance of data privacy to your networks. Share the pictures you took using our interactive lens on social media using the hashtag #FPFDataPrivacyDay2024.
Here are 7 quick, easy steps you can take to better protect your privacy online and when using your mobile device.
1. Check Your Privacy Settings on Social Media
Many social media sites include options on how to tailor your privacy settings to limit how 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 also provides options for you to view any data they have collected about you, including account information and your search history. Downloading your data allows you to view what information has been collected and modify your settings accordingly.
Instagram allows you to manage various privacy settings, including who has access to your posts, who can comment on or like your posts, 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, allows you to change your personalized ad settings, and more. You can check your settings here.
Twitter/X allows you to manage what information you allow other people on the platform to see and lets you choose your ad preferences. Check your settings here.
Facebook provides a range of privacy settings that can be found here.
In addition, you can check the privacy and security settings for other popular applications such as BeReal and Pinterest here. Be sure to also check your privacy settings if you have a profile on a popular dating app such as Bumble, Hinge, or Tinder.
What other social media apps do you use often? Check to see which settings they provide!
2. Limit Sharing of Location Data
Most social media apps and websites will ask for access to your location data. Do they need it for some obvious reason, like helping you with directions, showing your nearby friends, or perhaps a store location you’re looking for? If not, feel free to opt-out of location data. Be aware that location data is often used to personalize ads and recommendations based on locations you have recently visited. Allowing access to location services may also permit sharing of location information with third parties.
To check the location permissions allowed for apps on an iPhone or Android, follow the below steps.
- Navigate to “Settings,” then “Privacy & Security,” and then “Location Services.”
- Search for each app downloaded on your phone
- Open each and make sure “Never” is selected or only “While Using.”
- Navigate to “Settings,” then “Location,” and then “App Location Permissions.”
- Select the app you would like to prevent from accessing your location.
- Make sure “Not Allowed” is selected or “Allowed only while in use.”
3. Keep Your Devices & Apps Up to Date
Keeping software current and up to date is the only way to ensure your device is protected against the latest software vulnerabilities. Installing the latest security software, web browsers, and operating systems 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 systems 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 helps ensure your personal data and information are protected from unauthorized use. Remembering passwords for every account can be difficult, and using a password manager can help. Password managers save passwords as you create and log in to your accounts, often alerting you of duplicates and suggesting the creation of a stronger password.
For example, if you use an Apple product when signing up for new accounts and services, 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 standard username and password combination used for years. The second factor is a text message or email with a code sent to a personal device. This added step makes it harder for malicious actors to access 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.
Remember to adjust your settings regularly, staying on top of any privacy changes and updates made on the web applications you use daily. Protect your data by being intentional about what you post online and encouraging others to look at the information they may share. 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.
6. Use End-to-End Encryption for Secure Messaging
Using applications with secure end-to-end encryption, such as Signal and ProtonMail, ensures that only you and the intended recipient can read your messages. Other applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram are also end-to-end encrypted, though be sure to update your settings in Telegram as messages are not encrypted by default.
As many of us share sensitive information with our families and friends, it’s critical to be mindful of how our personal information is shared and who has access to it.
What better time to reassess our data practices and think about this important topic than during Data Privacy Day?
7. Turning off Personalized Ads
Take control of how companies use your personal information to advertise to you by going into the settings of your applications. See below for how-to guides with quick, step-by-step instructions to turn off ad personalization for popular apps you may be using:
- Google & Android
- Apple (including App Store, Apple News, and more)
If you’re interested in learning more about one of the topics discussed here or other issues driving the future of privacy, sign up for our monthly briefing, check out one of our upcoming events, or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
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.