It’s no surprise that our personal data isn’t as private as we think. Every few months there’s a report of serious data breach. For instance, 24/7 Wall Street tells us that “during the first three months of 2018, there were a total of 686 global data breaches that resulted in 1.46 billion records being exposed”. With no surprise, The United States holds the top spot with 392 data breach incidents. In comparison, the UK had 20. Still a fair amount but nothing in comparison to the US.
The leading incident that contributed to the leak of data for the United States was The Cambridge Analytica scandal. The scandal was that unsuspecting Facebook users’ information was harvested and sold to a third party.
The details were captured after completing a personality quiz on Facebook. Zuckerberg admitted that even his own data had been used. About the whole scandal he said “At the end of the day, this is my responsibility. I started this place, I run it, I’m responsible”. You’ve probably already seen all the memes that came out after his hearing.
Since then you’ve probably noticed the amount of emails saying “…we’ve updated our company policies…”. Well, this is a consequence of The Cambridge Analytica scandal. The problem is that there are lots of way companies use free prizes, fun online quizzes etc to entice people to register their contact details. Furthermore, companies use our digital data such as our browsing habits (cookies) to constantly sell us things. For example, have you noticed that when you search for something on ASOS or Topshop, a few minutes later you can see the item as an advert on an unrelated website.
Nowadays almost everything we do is online, even banking; thus it’s inevitable that our data is no longer as private as it once was. With all this in mind, we curated a list of tips on how to minimise the likelihood of our data being misused. If we can’t trust companies at least we can learn how to use the internet more responsibly.
Check your Facebook privacy settings
Most of us have Facebook and we wouldn’t like our friends to see all the weird things we liked back when we were 14. Check who has access to your information and your friends list by going to Settings > Privacy. To protect your data you may want to restrict the audience of people likely to see your posts.
Clear your Facebook browser history
Refinery29 reported that at the start of May, Mark Zuckerberg announced that a new tool will launch on Facebook. It will allow you to control and delete your browsing history that is stored on Facebook. Whilst this will launch later in the year for now you can clear the data Facebook has about sites and pages you visited by simply going to Settings > Browser > Clear Data.
Some apps have access to your location all the time, some just when you use it. Most of the time you haven’t actively authorised the app to do this. It happens when you download it. These apps don’t need to know where you are unless it is a transport or a map app. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services
Clear your Instagram search
Clearing your Instagram search history is pretty simple and can actually make a difference. Also that way no one will be able to see the last person you stalked. Simply go to Profile > Settings > Search History
It can be useful to have all your passwords and website saved onto your browser, but deleting the history once in a while helps to keep your data safe. Go to History > Clear History
So remember the fewer things you share on social media and the more private your accounts are the safer you are. Doesn’t all of this make it sound like we should just throw away our phones?