Posted in 21st Century life, advertising, data collecting, digital life, online tracking, privacy

How I Try to Maintain Privacy (or at Least Some) in My Digital World

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Today a person’s personal information is a commodity, and privacy is a struggle to maintain. I want to stop (or at least slow down) Facebook, Google and all their advertisers (not to mention Cambridge Analytica) from vacuuming up my information.

Of course I’ve turned on the privacy controls on all my accounts and apps, and I recheck them on a regular basis, but that’s only one small part of the personal privacy picture. Below are 14 more steps that I take to ensure that at least some of my personal information is less available.              

  1. I no longer use Google for most of my searches. Instead I use Duck Duck Go which does not collect my personal information or record my searches. Sure it’s not quite as glitzy as Google, but it does the job most of the time. Occasionally a search on some other site dumps me into Google, but I simply go to the Duck Duck Go site. On iPhones and Macs it’s easy to set Duck Duck Go as Safari’s default search engine. Note: Sites can still use cookies and keep track once you leave the search engine.
  2. I do not keep Google signed in on my iPhone. This can be tricky because  organizations that I work with use Google Apps. Usually I do not need to log into Google to read the files, but if necessary I’ll log in and out again.
  3. I close Facebook every time I finish using it — especially on my mobile phone — never letting it sit open and doing things in the background.
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  4. Also, I’ve turned off the API feature that enables Facebook to collect my data.
  5. I turn off facial recognition where ever I encounter it.
  6. I never use Facebook or Google user names or password  information to log in to other sites.
  7. I put regular reminders in my calendar to recheck Facebook privacy settings, usually every two months.
  8. My mobile phone location feature is on but I’ve gone through all of my apps and turned location off for most of them. Those few apps that do use location are set to “when using.”
  9. I use a tracker blocker, Ghostery, on my computer so I can turn off as many trackers as possible. Sometimes I need to tinker with the settings to allow certain items, especially videos, to run. And yes, it is possible to turn off Ghostery by whitelisting sites — in my case Newspapers and blogging software.      
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  10. I use the VPN recommended by The Wirecutter on my computer when I am on a public network. VPN stands for virtual private network and it shields user computer activities and information. I am not especially pleased with the speed of my computer when I’ve turned on the VPN, but efficiency seems to increase every year. What is a VPN?
  11. I’ve stopped taking ALL quizzes on Facebook (or anywhere else). A few months ago I checked my Facebook apps settings, I discovered that almost every quiz had installed an app. I’ve deleted them all. No more quizzes for me — even when I miss interacting and having fun with online friends.
  12. Very few grandmother with grandkid photos are posted on any of my social media accounts. Yes, I do occasionally share a picture — and always with parent permission — but I’m conservative about establishing a child’s digital dossier before her or she has the opportunity to decide what to put there. The Internet is forever.
  13. Lately many people have been posting small fundraisers on Facebook — which I love. Then recently I discovered that after a person contributes with a credit card, the account information sits right there in settings/payments/account settings. No, no, and no.  I delete the number each time I contribute.
  14. I have subscribed and set up a paid email account to use for financial materials and medical communication.

Now some people think I am using way too much effort. When I showed this list to a friend, he commented that it’s so much work to keep up with these things, but I don’t think so.  If a few moments of extra work here and there can garner more privacy in my life, not to mention offering me a bit more protection from potential identity theft and nuisance advertising, I am happy to do it.

A Few Sites Where You Can Learn More About YOUR Privay Protection

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