6 Simple Tips to Refresh your Online Privacy for Data Protection Day
The purpose of Data Protection 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 of us 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 willingly we are to 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 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 that you can take in order to get some of your privacy back from social media and apps.
- Manage advertising
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 you remove interests that the platform can use to target you, which you can do, for example, on Facebook and Twitter. Where possible, toggle off or remove any personal data that can also be used for ad targeting. You can also limit tracking and ad targeting by these platforms based on your browsing off social media, such as by 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, can 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 the platform you use to log in 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. Similarly, you can manage third-party access to your Google account through your security settings.
- 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 all together 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 link them up.
For more tips around how to protect your online privacy, check out Avast’s Privacy Refresh blogs for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter.