Everywhere you look, concerns are mounting about internet privacy.
Although giving up your data was once an afterthought when gaining access to the newest internet services such as Facebook and Uber, many people have had their perspective altered by various recent scandals, billions of dollars of cybertheft, and a growing discomfort around how their personal data may be used in the future.
More people want to opt out of this data collection, but aside from disconnecting entirely or taking ludicrous measures to safeguard information, there aren’t many great options available to limit what is seen and known about you online.
The Next Best Thing
It may not be realistic to use Tor for all online browsing, so why not instead look at taking more practical steps to reducing your internet footprint?
Today’s infographic comes to us from CashNetUSA, and it gives a step-by-step guide – that anyone can follow – to limit the amount of personal data that gets collected on the internet.
As you can see, you can take simple steps to limit the amount of personal information you give up online.
To be absolutely clear, these actions will not reduce your footprint to nothing – but they will make many important categories of data invisible for all intents and purposes.
Basic Building Blocks
The simple actions that can be taken fall into three major realms: internet browsers, social networks, and mobile phones.
1. Internet Browsers:
Whether you are using Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer, there are easy things you can do to increase privacy. These include using private browsing, blocking third-party cookies, and tailoring the permissions for websites that you access.
2. Social Media Platforms
Major social networks have options built-in for users seeking privacy – it’s just many people don’t know they are there. On Facebook, for example, you can prevent your name being linked to ads – and on Twitter, you can prevent Twitter from tracking you.
3. Mobile Phones
We live more and more on our smartphones, but thankfully there are options here as well. You can block ad tracking on Safari, or opt out of ad personalization on Android. There is even a simple setting on Android that allows you to encrypt your phone.
Here’s What the Big Tech Companies Know About You
Comparing the types of data that the big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon admit to collecting in their privacy policies.
The novelty of the internet platform boom has mostly worn off.
Now that companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Alphabet are among the world’s most valued companies, people are starting to hold them more accountable for the impact of their actions on the real world.
From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the transparency of Apple’s supply chain, it’s clear that big tech companies are under higher scrutiny. Unsurprisingly, much of this concern stems around one key currency that tech companies leverage for their own profitability: personal data.
What Big Tech Knows
Today’s infographic comes to us from Security Baron, and it compares and contrasts the data that big tech companies admit to collecting in their privacy policies.
While the list of data collected by big tech is extensive in both length and breadth, it does take two to tango.
For many of these categories, users have to willingly supply their data in order for it to be collected. For example, you don’t have to fill out your relationship status on Facebook, but millions of users choose to do so.
Did I Opt Into This?
The majority of the data categories on the list make sense – it’s a no-brainer that Amazon has your credit card information, or that Google knows what websites you visit. Even the least tech-savvy person would likely understand this.
However, there are definitely some categories of data that get collected and stored that may sound unnerving to some people:
- Facebook knows your political views, religious views, and even your ethnicity
- Xbox users will have their skeletal tracking data collected through the Kinect device
- Facebook also knows your income level, which it finds out through partnerships with personal data brokers
- Platforms collect your documents, email, and message data – though some of this is just metadata
- Facebook and Microsoft store facial recognition data, based on the pictures you upload
Remember, this is just what companies admit to collecting in their privacy policies – what else do you think they know?
What Does Google Know About You?
Google tracks pretty much everything you do, including where you’ve been, what you look like, and your personal beliefs. See what Google knows about you.
Data is what fuels the information economy.
And while there are many varieties of data clogging up the internet’s bandwidth, there is one specific type of data that is known to be particularly lucrative: personal data.
Like many other enterprising tech giants, Google must accumulate massive amounts of personal data to monetize its services – and in the process, the company develops an astonishingly robust picture of what you’re all about.
What Google Knows
Today’s infographic comes to us from TheBestVPN and it shows what Google knows about you, how the tech giant gathers that information, and a few solutions to stop Google from tracking you.
Through its various apps and services, Google can craft a robust profile on you and your activity on the internet.
Google, like Facebook, uses this personal information to target customized advertisements to you, however you decide to use the internet. This can be via search, mobile phone, Gmail, Youtube, or other apps that run ads connected to the Google network.
Crafting a Perfect Profile
Here is what Google knows about you, based on this information:
Who You Are
Google knows what you look like, what you sound like, your political and religious beliefs, and how healthy you are. The search giant also knows if you have children, or if you have specific dietary restrictions.
Where You’ve Been
Google uses location tracking to know where you live, where you work, and everywhere you’ve traveled.
Who Your Friends Are
Google knows who you talk to, and what you talk about. It also knows who you’ve been with, and when.
What You Like and Dislike
Based on your search queries, Google knows the food, books, movies, videos, and stores that you like or dislike.
Your Future Plans
Your search queries tell a story about what you are thinking about, including your future plans. Have you started searching for information about parenting techniques? If so, Google knows that you are expecting.
Your Online Life
Google also knows all of the websites you’ve visited, your data that autofills, and your bookmarked pages.
If you really want to decrease the amount of data that Google has on you, there are a few options available, including:
- Adjusting privacy settings
- Using private browsing
- Using a different browser for search
- Turning of your location settings
- Deleting your Google accounts
- Using a VPN
Of course, not many of these options are particularly convenient – so get used to the idea that Google will continue to know more and more about you as time goes on.
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