With the recent revelations of the invasion of users' privacy and misuse of personal data from the likes of companies such as Facebook, it is inevitable that we, the consumers, are worried. And since these activities seem to be a trend lately, we absolutely should be. A majority of people use Facebook and similar social media services, and it doesn't seem the companies will change their way any time soon. Worrying on its own does not solve the problem however, so what can users do to protect themselves online?
Out of the myriad of different options proposed by organizations and independent developers alike, Privacy Badger is a solution from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that serves well. The browser extension, with the recent announcement of a feature to block Facebook's tracking on other websites as well, is an install-n-forget way to keep peace of mind while using social media and browsing the web.
While these social networks and other trackers do track users' activity on the web, such as what they read and how they interact with different content, this alone is not all the data they use. A user might not know that their interactions and habits are being tracked online, but the information they willingly provide to the platforms is no different. Things such as that cat photo you sent to your friend or a message to a loved one can and is being used to track you on such platforms, and cannot be blocked with any privacy tool. Instead, minding what and how you share is entirely up to you.
Sharing personal information, be it with friends, family or the public, should not be something done on a whim. It instead should be an informed decision by the user. A user must ask themselves who exactly they are sharing with, and if the answer to that is the public, if they would be comfortable with any person in the public viewing such data. If you are looking for an extensive guide on how to use social media while protecting your privacy, Security-in-a-Box is the answer.
Users' privacy is not a lost cause, and by taking technical measures to prevent the covert tracking we may not be aware of, and also paying attention to the way we use social media and what information we provide, it is possible to protect our privacy and well-being online.
Abdulkadir Furkan Şanlı