The original title of this was “What did you think social media meant?” But the issues we face today go beyond social media and enter into many private aspects of our lives. When, in the early 2000’s social media began to blossom, most of us were excited to be able to connect with and reconnect with family and friends both near and far. We didn’t give privacy much of a thought.
Even fairly recently a relationship initiated via a Facebook comment turned into marriage for a family member. How cool is that?
So let’s be clear, because our goal today is to make things more transparent, every EULA (End User License Agreement) you accept – upon joining FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. or upon setting up a new device like your iPhone or Droid – has ramifications. Ever read any of these? Nope, me neither.
So what did you agree to?
Some of the scary stuff that FB knows about you:
Open / login to your FB on a computer. Then click on settings (currently under the down arrow at the top right). Then along the left click on ads. There are a variety of things you can view here that Facebook knows about you. You can even ask FB to remove or turn off some of the items. But to get to the most personal items, click on Your Information and then on Your Categories. Facebook knows what devices I access FB from and with what browser(s). They know my political stance. . . a whole bunch of other things I don’t think I’ll share here.
What about other social media sites? Are you on Twitter? If so, login and click on your profile photo in the top right and then click on Settings and Privacy. On the left click on Your Twitter Data. Some key things to review include Interests from Twitter, Apps on your devices, and Tailored audiences. One of the nifty things you can do is request an archive of every tweet you’ve ever tweeted.
Are you on Instagram? Probably the most interesting (and scary) item about Instagram is that it accesses the microphone on your mobile device by default. Whether you use a Droid or an iPhone you should be able to access the permissions in your settings. I went in to see what had access to my microphone and sure enough, Instagram was turned on. I had given Instagram permission to eavesdrop and they undoubtedly were.
So since we’re looking at devices, take out your mobile device – or devices as many have more than one. Open the settings. On my Google Pixel (that FB knows I have), I click on Apps & Notifications then on App Permissions. From here I can see which apps can access my camera, my contacts, my location, my microphone, my texts and more.
But to see everything that Google knows about you is probably the most alarming. Log in to your Google account and visit https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity. I log in to Chrome on my work computer. I have two Droid devices. Google tracks every app I use every time. It logs every website I visit. It knows every place I go and every place I have been stretching back to 2011. It knows where my home is. I often speak texts instead of typing them. It knows everything I’ve said with these. It – or perhaps I should say THEY – have recordings of everything I have said to my phone. Under ad settings they list dozens of topics you like.
Some of these sites and companies allow you to remove or turn off settings to give you more privacy. Some, like Facebook, boldly tell you that turning them off might not mean you won’t get those ads anymore.
In any case we all can and should review these settings. It is your life. Take control.