Stop What You're Doing and Check Your Privacy Settings

BlogHer Original Post

There's absolutely a lack of privacy online, but there are also things you can do to lessen the amount of information you're giving away.  Sometimes we forget to go back and check these things, so consider this a little reminder to jump onto sites such as Facebook or Google and adjust your settings in order to make yourself more comfortable with what you're putting out there online.

Many websites use cookies in order to provide you with the correct information when you visit a site.  For example, when you log into Facebook, Facebook needs to remember for the entire duration of your visit that you are... you.  Cookies help them get that job done.

But unless you've set your privacy settings on your browser to reject cookies (which means you won't be able to use some sites) or delete them once you close your browser, cookies remain on your computer long after you've used the site, still collecting information.  In fact, some cookies won't be deleted at all, even if you've chosen to delete them through your browser.

PC Magazine over the weekend posted the worst offenders of information collecting.  Facebook and Google top the list.

Facebook

Log into Facebook and go to the top right corner of the screen.  Next to the word "home," you will find a small triangle facing down.  Click the triangle and it will open a menu.  Choose privacy settings.  Once inside the privacy setting page, choose "custom" and go to town.  Think about how you want people to find you, who you want posting in your timeline and who you want to be able to see those things that other people post, what information apps are seeing, and even block people you want to ensure never find you.  I cannot tell you how many people have their photos or timeline set to public.

Have more questions?  The Chronicle has an excellent post on privacy settings on Facebook.

Google

Spydergrrl had a great post on BlogHer a few months ago about Google's privacy policy and how to (somewhat) protect your information.  She explains how Google tracks your information in order to deliver personalized ads, and how Google is pretty much impossible to avoid entirely considering their scope from YouTube to blogs.

The one thing that might surprise you, however, is that they do this kind of tracking whether you are logged into your Google account, or not. Think about that for a second. Even if you are a Mac-lover who loathes the Goog, but who might end up on YouTube or Google every once in a while. They know, and they can cookie your device, and they can custom serve you ads and content. Not nearly as much as when you are logged in, of course. But they're watching. They're always watching.

At the end of her post, she gives ten ways you can protect your information online including how to opt out of Google Analytics tracking and switch your Gmail chat to "off the record."

When was the last time you checked your privacy settings?  Did you make any changes today after this reminder?

Photo Credit: Privacy via Shutterstock.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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