I was recently responding to a friend’s Facebook post concerning her account being auto-added to a group, when it occurred to me that this is simply another example of policing your privacy. As a general rule, you should understand that any type of digital presence inherently disrupts your privacy. While it is possible to have most of your privacy settings in order, it’s been proven time and again, that there are merely various levels of “private”. If you don’t mind having what you post visible to someone else then continue to use it, but if you want “true privacy” then you should simply avoid using digital means to exist.
Many are oblivious to the availability of information on the internet about themselves, or their family. People are openly sharing small bits of information, that when pieced together provide more information than you want others to know. With little more than the name of a person, you can located their residence, the average salary of the household, the names of many of its other inhabitants, ages, etc.
Pretty Scary huh? – You’re damn right it is!
While technology has provided us with a number of conveniences, it also poses some serious privacy risks that many are unaware of until after the fact. Children are typically the worst at covering their tracks in Social Media. They provide their school, their names, their locations, etc.
Here are a few tips:
- Turn of Geo-Tagging on your smartphones. Geo-Tagging grabs location information about where a picture was taken. This may also be on your regular digital camera. Turn it off! While many sites like Facebook & Imgur strip out exif data , not all sites do.
- Lock your personal social media profiles, so that they are only visible to friends. Don’t allow others to tag you in Facebook profiles, etc. Give people as little or no control of your profile.
- Curb your need to always be “jacked into the matrix”. You don’t need to have your smart phone activity visible to everyone in public. People watch other people sometimes simply out of curiosity, sometimes with malice in mind. Everyone doesn’t need to see what you are typing, and many times that post can wait until later.
- Search yourself and your family on the internet. Pull up Google and do a search of your name/s. If you’ve changed names, check all of them, check your middle name too. Check out sites like Spokeo and see what is easily available about you. HR institutions are using this information to review people before they hire them. Predators can use it too!
- Spy on your children. Yes, I said, spy on your children. Watch their internet activity. Put in your own firewall or use software on their computers that keep track of their habits. Remember that kids will be kids, don’t use it against them all the time. Use it as an educational resource, but don’t turn into “Big Brother” yourself. Remember, you were a kid once. You know some of the dumb things you did. They will do them to. Don’t chastise them, educate them on how to use it, show them how to protect themselves by locking their profiles, and not sharing information such as what school they go to, their friends’ information, etc.
- Limit the availability of personal information that you provide in public. Stores don’t need your zip code, or phone number. Don’t provide it. If they force you to, give them fake information. Come up with a number that you will use strictly for this purpose. Use a Google Voice number if a number is required for things. You can then disconnect and reconnect the number at will basically as needed, and it’s free.
- Hire someone who can review you and your family. You’ll be amazed at the information they find on you. If they don’t find any information, then you will be relieved, however, in today’s day and age, I find that unlikely.
There are many things that a person can do to protect their privacy, and some have gone to the extreme. Some information simply can’t be hid, due to “public record”. It’s up to you to decide what you want available to the masses.