Popular apps and websites, such as Facebook and Amazon, that many of us use all the time, are gathering a lot of information about us, and even sharing it with others.
So the NBC4 I-Team talked to a privacy expert about the settings you might want to have in place to keep your personal information as private as possible.
Facebook, Amazon, Venmo and Google. Those are the apps and websites that most of us are using, and those are the ones gobbling up our data.
“In most cases you’re just making all of your information public in one way or another,” said online privacy expert Hayley Kaplan. “You’re making it so easy for people to know so much about you.”
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But Kaplan says a quick privacy checkup will help protect some of your personal information.
Let’s start with Amazon. If you have a wish list, Kaplan says it defaults to a public setting, meaning anybody can see what’s on it. The quick fix: set it to private.
Now, your browsing and purchase history aren’t public. But if you share your account with your family, they can see it all.
“Let’s just say you’re sharing the account and you’ve ordered something you don’t want someone in your family to know, let’s say a birthday gift you want to keep a surprise for them. There is a way to hide that,” said Kaplan.
Here are tips for keeping your Amazon account private.
For Venmo users, the default setting is public, meaning people can see everyone you’re paying and when. If you want to keep those payments to your therapist private, then you need to adjust your settings. Kaplan says you’ll also want to hide your past transactions and your contacts.
Here are tips for adjusting your Venmo privacy settings.
And if you’re not sure which cash app to use, Kaplan prefers Zelle.
“It’s highly encrypted, there’s no sharing, there’s no ‘friends list’ within the app,” said Kaplan. “To me it just feels much more secure than Venmo.”
As for Facebook, you may have noticed that ads pop up based on what you’re searching for online. You can stop the social media giant from targeting ads at you by tweaking your settings.
Another settings tweak that Kaplan suggests: don’t let people tag you in posts or pictures without your approval.
And whatever changes you make to your Facebook settings, be sure to check them often.
“I can write an article that goes step by step through Facebook settings, and three days from now, 10 days from now, a year from now, it could be very different,” said Kaplan.
Over on Google, they just might know the most about you. Kaplan suggests you don’t allow the tech giant to track your browsing history. Here’s how to access and change your Google privacy settings.
Kaplan can also walk you through how to blur your home on Google maps.
Finally, some sites allow you to log in using your Google or Facebook account, but Kaplan says don’t do it, because that just gives the companies even more information about you.
“Education is the best ammunition you can have,” said Kaplan. “Once you’ve decided that you care about privacy and start educating yourself, you can achieve a pretty decent level for yourself.”