Those of us who want to maintain a modicum of privacy in our digital and mobile phone lives, not to mention our 21st Century kids’ lives, may be interested in a question answered by writer J.D. Biersdorfer, on his New York Times Personal Tech blog.
Answering the question, How Your Phone Knows Where You Have Been?,Biersdorfer explains lots more about the GPS function on a mobile phone, describes what’s collected, and tells how to fine out how Apple and Google use the information. He also describes, with screen shots, how to reset or disable the information collecting. It turns out that shutting off location services, or leaving them on and allowing just a few apps to use location data, is not enough. On the iPhone, more privacy settings, in a category called system services, are buried inside the location list.
Parents and teachers may want to learn a lots more about how a mobile phone keeps track of a user’s whereabouts and this column provides lots of information. Interestingly, some parents have told me that they like examining, from time-to-time, the map that the GPS leaves, especially on their kids phones.
All of us — children, parents, and teachers — need to think about the security of our privacy settings. Part of learning to live in the digital world involves understanding and competently using these settings, but we also must recognize their limitations.
Once we post or share digital content, the privacy of the information depends on the good judgment of others. No matter how securely the settings, our friends, who in theory understand our expectations, can err in judgment by copying, taking screen shots, or sharing the content in another digital location. When we post data via social media, we cede control of that information to others who may not abide by our privacy preferences.
In a Wired article, Don’t Make My Mistake: Always Think Before You Tweet, Randi Zuckerman, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman, describes how she shared a picture with friends, only to have one of those friends share it in a more public way and eventually widely via Twitter. The picture caused a huge media stir, with people laughing that Zuckerman, the sister of the Facebook founder, did not understand the privacy settings. But she understood perfectly — it was her friend who did not get it.
Facebook has tossed out another challenge to family members, including grandparents, who seek to maintain privacy while still enjoying the social interaction that the social network offers.
Here we go again with facial recognition.
Find instructions for disabling the new Facebook facial feature at the BBC blog, WebWise: A Beginner’s Guide to Using the Internet. I’ve compiled the basic steps after reading a number of posts about the new facial recognition addition, but read the whole BBC post for the simplest and most comprehensive explanation.
Go to Account.
Go to Privacy Settings.
Click on Customize Settings (itty-bitty blue link at the bottom).
Find the category, Things Others Share.
Find the words Suggest photos of me to friends and click the edit settings button.
Naturally…Facebook’s default has enabled the feature so you want to click on the button that disables the feature.
As soon as children begin using computers, parents can begin to introduce the concept of online privacy, and these conversations focusing on privacy and social networking should continue throughout a child’s pre-adolescent and teenage years. Ongoing discussions can help children understand the power of the digital footprints they leave as they engage in web-based work and play.
Other Places to Read about the Facebook Privacy Updates
Maintaining control over privacy settings is a required and critical technology task for each Facebook user. Since sharing information is one of Facebook’s primary missions, the company wants to collect and share as much personal information as possible with its advertisers. Facebook sets most new features to share data then when they first debut on the site, and to be fair, social networking is all about sharing information. Thus it is up to each individual to determine just how much information to put out there, making conscious decisions about what the world can see, what close friends can view, and what to keep private.
Our children and their friends are enthusiastic Facebook users, but they do not always focus on the need to pay attention, on a regular basis, to privacy settings. I’ve written many privacy posts on this blog including Getting Serious About Online Privacyand Keeping Track: Adolescents in the Digital Age, pieces that focus on the importance of maintaining family privacy when individual members engage in so many digital activities. Knowing the connection between many social networking sites and advertisers — and the impact it has on a user’s privacy — is critical for everyone, but especially for teens.