Today is an International Data Privacy Day and Avast, a digital security and privacy product company is calling on Indians to take back their privacy across their digital lifestyle. The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices.
“It’s important to not be apathetic when it comes to online privacy and to regularly look at how you can stay in control over your privacy and the personal data you share online, including on social media and apps that many Indians use every day,” said Shane McNamee, Chief Privacy Officer at Avast.
“Next week on February 4, it will be 16 years since Facebook launched and while it wasn’t the first social network, it has changed how we willingly share personal data about ourselves online. Platforms like Facebook and Google have developed complex advertising networks which rely on personal data for targeted advertising, which can seem ever-present at times. However, there are ways that you can take back some control and limit the access that websites, social media platforms, and apps have to your personal data. You have more control than you think when it comes to deciding who can see your data and what they are allowed to do with it.”
Here are six simple steps from Shane McNamee on Data Privacy Day, that you can take in order to get some of your privacy back from social media and apps.
You can restrict what data advertisers use to target you on different social media platforms. Have a good look through your privacy and advertising settings and make sure that you remove interests that the platform can use to target you, which you can do on Facebook and Twitter, and toggle off or remove any personal data that can also be used for ad targeting. You can also remove tracking and ad targeting off social media, such as turning off ‘Off-Twitter Activity’ on Twitter and removing ‘Ads Shown off of Facebook’ on Facebook.
Turn off location tracking
Location tracking and history, even location metadata in your photos, allow social media platforms and apps to track and catalogue your precise locations and then serve you personalised ads. A good privacy-protecting move is to turn off your Location Services on your phone for all social media apps and your camera. If you have an iPhone, you can find this in Settings, Privacy, then Location Services. On Android, go to Settings, then Location to turn off Location Sharing, Location History and adjust location access for apps.
Don’t log in
On certain social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok, you don’t need to log in to view content. By choosing not to log in, it takes away a really big amount of data that they could potentially collect, such as your user journey through the network, including content you search and engage with, and ads you click.
Revoke app and game permissions
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably signed into other apps and websites with your Facebook or Google login details. While this is super convenient, it also gives those sites access to your data and gives Facebook more information about you. Through your Facebook settings, you can revoke permissions or you can choose what data the apps and games you still use have access to.
Don’t click on ads
Many social media platforms and apps track not only which ads you click on but also how long you spend looking at them or swiping through them. If you don’t want social media platforms or apps to have information about your interests, then get in the habit of really ignoring ads altogether and don’t use the Shop feature you can find in Instagram and on Google, for example. If you see something that you like, you can search for it via your browser whilst using a VPN, like Avast SecureLine VPN, which makes it harder for third-parties to track your online activities.
Create a burner email address
If you’re going to truly take back some of your privacy, you can start from square one by creating a burner email address. A burner email — which is an email address that you only use for specific things and that isn’t linked to you elsewhere — makes it much more difficult for companies to track you. You can easily create one for free on Gmail, but just be sure not to link it to your main account. Even better, use a different email service than the one you usually use, so you don’t accidentally hook them up.