The latest Facebook scandal has led to user privacy making the headlines once more. Facebook referred to the incident as a breach of trust and says that it has put tighter restrictions to prevent anything like this from happening again. The network stands accused of allowing user data to be collected and used in ways it shouldn’t have been, to track and target political opinions.
This makes people wonder what they are really signing up for when they make these social media accounts. What do these websites have on you? You may not like the answer because it is an awful lot. Whenever you sign up for a free service, you are basically signing away your privacy in exchange for their features. Looking at the privacy policies, that we all tend to ignore, you will see that many vague terms are used and that is deliberate.
There are two things to worry about. The information that the company collects and how it will be used. Google logs all your searches and browsing if you allow it but promises never to sell the personal information to anyone or let other companies access it. Targeted advertising is an example of this. You start seeing ads based on things you have been searching.
Facebook records all your interactions as well. This lets them shape your timeline accordingly with your favourite people at the top and the products you like on the side. Every site wants to get your personal information as it allows them to use a specific marketing strategy depending on the type of person you are. However, there are ways to control the data that these apps can access.
When you install an app, it asks for a few permissions. Some of them need to be ticked for the app to run but not all of them. Like, you can’t run Snapchat without giving access to the camera. But you can very much use Facebook or Twitter without the camera. So it is important to take a look at the permissions before allowing the apps to run.
Secondly, going into the privacy settings of the apps themselves also allow you to change a number of settings and you can restrict what the app has access to from this menu as well. Staying logged out of the social networks does not allow them to monitor you. You can use the incognito or private browsing for this. But, as soon as you log in, you are giving them access once again.
I think we can’t control these apps from tracking what we do inside the apps and pushing related advertisements but we can certainly spend less time on these networks and be careful about what we do there.