In an age where digital innovation is increasingly dominant in daily life, and online tendencies are tracked and analysed for consumer experience, it is important to be aware of exactly what information you are disclosing. And most importantly, whether that is information that you would choose to share.
Whilst there is an increasing awareness of desktop security with a particular focus on SSL secure websites, the user-friendly experience that mobile provides brings forward a whole new host of data protection issues. Nowadays, with easy mobile functionality the average social Joe can provide quite an in-depth character profile, simply with unchecked privacy settings across social platforms. The average social Joe however, is not partial to having this information stored into data lists at best, or included in manipulated data scandals at worst.
In light of recent events, namely a certain Facebook scandal and the GDPR data protection overhaul, a look into how to protect your data may seem pretty relevant. So, the important part - exactly how can you protect your data online without resorting to running away into the wilderness to live from the land and be free from prying eyes? Although many Facebook users seem to have chosen the latter (we’ve seen the status updates), there are several precautions that you easily can take to stay safer online.
1. Data protection in Facebook. Apps within Apps.
At the foundation of the Cambridge Analytica scandal is the interconnection and sharing of data between apps. Information was gathered with an app called, 'thisisyourdigitallife', using data gathered from Facebook. It is important to know which apps have access to your Facebook data (details such as your name, birthday, friends list and pictures). You can view this list in the App Settings page. By selecting each app featuring on this list it will reveal the types of data that you have permitted them to access. Ensure that they only have access to details you are happy with. According to The Guardian, two datasets can be combined to uncover information that would have been anonymous if they had remained in the separate data lists and, ‘nearly 90% of the US population could be uniquely identified simply by combining their gender, their date of birth and their postal code'. These are all pieces of information freely and openly given on many profiles. However, it is possible to disable access to integrated apps, and thus hinder the ability of apps to work together in building a profile on you and your activity.
To activate: navigate to Settings > Apps and Websites and Plugins, then select Edit > Disable Platform.
2. Facebook. Check your privacy settings.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Facebook have recently issued yet another privacy update. This time however, introducing the imminent introduction of Face ID. This new feature will allow Facebook to identify you in photos, videos and posts that you would not otherwise be tagged in, or in their own words, to 'help protect you from strangers using your photo’. This presents the perfect opportunity to gain an overview of your overall privacy settings. The privacy settings are comprised of three main areas (posts, apps and profile), that are scattered across the site.
To activate: select the padlock that sits to the right of the Home screen and select 'Run Privacy Check Up', you will be able to see all of these settings at once. Use this function to control exactly who can see what, be that friends, public or only you.
3. Being an aloof Facebook user
There are other measurements that you can take to ensure that plucking your data is a little more challenging than taking candy from a baby. Protect your location by choosing not to select the location pin, or when using a mobile app by denying Facebook the ability to access your location (Settings > Privacy > Location > Facebook > Never). Remove the function to be searchable on Google by selecting 'No' in the Settings > Privacy pathway. Limit who can see your private information in Settings > Privacy and amending these to be 'Friends only'.
If you take away just one thing: The people who need to know your date of birth, address and email address will already have that information. Make sure that all information that you post is information that you are happy to be public knowledge - in whatever way that could be construed. If not, remove these details from your profile.
4. Gone Phishing
Although Facebook currently hold the award for most shocking data scandal, it is important to apply the same vigilance across all channels and platforms in which you communicate personal information. Watch out for phishing scams attempting to uncover your personal information. For example, a seemingly innocuous 'Find out your Rap name' post that is comprised of your first pet and your mother's maiden name (two very common account recovery questions), would provide all the information a phisher would need- hook, line and sinker. Never enter information that could be used to access your personal accounts.
For further guidance on how to maintain a socially safe presence online, get in touch with Hydra Creative.