While we all know it’s crucial to keep our online personal data private, it can seem overwhelming and even futile to maintain any semblance of privacy control in our current digital world. The Washington Post has broken down a comprehensive list of privacy settings for the most popular services and gives you action items you can take today.
Google offers a Privacy Checkup that guides you through several security settings quickly, but it doesn’t go deeper into the privacy settings available to you. Limiting Google’s data collection does come with a few trade-offs, according to the company. Google services and ads you see may not be as targeted or personalized to you. One step you can take right now to pause Google’s data collection:
- On the Web, go to myaccount.google.com → Data & Privacy → Web & App Activity. You can also get here directly on the activity controls page. Turn off the toggle for Web & App Activity so it is gray instead of blue. A pop-up will ask you to confirm you’re ready to “pause” the data collection.
Amazon may be famous for its ever-expanding online marketplace, but it’s perhaps more infamous for pushing the boundaries when it comes to consumer privacy. Whether you use Amazon’s shopping services or in-home smart devices, here are two steps you can take right now to increase your privacy while using Amazon:
- Go to the Amazon homepage → All → Help & Settings→ Your Account → Your lists. For each list, click on the three dots on the right and select Manage List. Set the Privacy setting to Private. This will ensure your Amazon wish lists are no longer public.
- Amazon Sidewalk was automatically enabled for all Ring and Echo users. This technology expands your in-home internet network for up to half a mile, reaching places outside of your control.
- If you’ve got Echo devices, go to the Alexa app on a phone, then tap the More icon. Then tap on Settings, then tap on Account Settings, then tap on Amazon Sidewalk. In there, make sure “Enabled” is set to off.
- If you’ve got Ring devices, go to the Ring app on a phone, then tap the three bars at the top left corner to get to the menu. Then tap Control Center, then scroll down to Amazon Sidewalk.
Social media platforms, particularly Facebook, are notorious for displaying ads to their intended audiences with uncanny accuracy. With three billion people connecting through Facebook, it may not be feasible for you to stop using the platform. However, you can reclaim some of your privacy while using the app. Facebook offers a “Privacy Checkup” and “Privacy Shortcuts” page that takes you through several privacy settings, but the Washington Post compiled a comprehensive list here. Since Facebook profits off user data like previously visited websites and products purchased, you can reclaim some of your online privacy by changing your ad setting data:
- Go to Settings & Privacy → Settings → Ads → Ad Settings → “Data about your activity from partners.”
- Turn this off for your Facebook and Instagram accounts. (The toggle is gray if off, blue if on.)
After downloading new apps, updating existing apps, or signing up for new services online, ensuring your privacy settings meet your comfort level should be a top priority. Scheduling a yearly online security audit can help you maintain control of your digital identity. For more cyber security tips, click here.