Don't Reveal Your Private Life Online
Significant privacy issues crop up every time you post on social networks. This caveat includes Twitter, Instagram, Facebook (FB) and YouTube. Here’s a rundown of recent privacy issues associated with some of the top social networking platforms to convince you that caution is needed when socializing online.
Underscoring the potential harm, consider the following. Facebook has agreed to a $550 million settlement after they were alleged to have violated Illinois law related to privacy. Users in Illinois complained about privacy concerns on the social network due to a feature that automatically "tags" people in posted images without their permission.
This litigation appears will set the record as the most sizable privacy settlement in U.S. history, but only applies to the one state. Every state does not have the same privacy protection. In 2008, Illinois adopted robust biometrics law that requires prior consent before biomarkers including faces and fingerprints are collected.
Twitter recently appears to have asked users to provide email addresses or phone numbers to boost account security. These data points, required to enable two-factor authorization (2FA) logins, were then mistakenly used for targeted ads.
Dial Up Your Protection
Since social networking's infancy, groups like the non-profit Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) have urged caution. They warn that each app's default settings recommend the most public options. Public viewing defaults are in the developer's best interest because that means more data to access. Remember: your data has value, and monetizing your information is what supports these "free" services.
Some companies have tried to get ahead of the privacy curve by encrypting online traffic. If your favorite app does not encrypt, there are still ways to lock down your privacy.
Begin by locating the app's Settings section or the Privacy and Security page. Check your options and make any changes you feel are in order.
IDShield warns against the "click and skip" approach. Privacy documents can contain some ugly surprises. If you don’t read that policy, you won't learn what data is collected, how it's stored, who can access it or how that company utilizes your Personally Identifiable Information (PII). If the company collecting your data is sold or merges – think FB's acquisition of WhatsApp several years ago – user data may transfer to new ownership with different privacy coverage.
Is Privacy Really Worth the Effort?
Maybe you've heard of online dating sites. What could possibly go wrong?
The possibilities for data loss are substantial. Location data, photos, and other details might be shared, hacked, or leaked. So, yes, privacy does matter on a number of levels.
Get It Done Now
Hey, we know you're busy. But a few minutes spent today could save you hours of grief later. Check those settings. Facebook even offers helpful tips, but you'll need to remain vigilant regarding new features; they roll out regularly.
It's worth a minute to view your online data that Facebook receives from other businesses. If you see some things you'd prefer not to share, you know it might be a good time to tighten your privacy controls further.
Common Sense Tactics
Stop sharing your vacation plans or travel photos on social media. Burglars love reading all about it. Never tell the general public when you're leaving town. Don't post photos of your airline ticket, either. Wait until you're home and safe to post photos from your latest vacation.
It is not just your inquisitive neighbors or criminals who study you online. Government agencies also scan your posts, record your likes and take note of what you share. Even the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) has jumped into the act – asking some travelers to unlock their smart phones and share social media content at the border. Isn't that enough to make you think twice about what you post?
Privacy issues weren't front and center when most of these blockbuster apps first launched and goofs have occurred frequently.
Only time will tell whether social networks can truly beef up their privacy practices and remain profitable. Meanwhile, you shouldn’t wait for these companies to act in your best interest. Take control of your personal data and take back your privacy today.
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