• Burton Kelso, The Technology Expert

4 Tips to Keep Facebook and Google From Spying On You

By now, I’m sure all of you have heard about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. This situation has many people running to delete their Facebook accounts and downloading the data that Facebook and Google has collected on them. We are all learning the hard way that our privacy is not the concern for social media networks. They are for-profit companies who are trying to make the most of the product they are selling. That product is us and the aim is to help advertisers craft ads that will cater to what we want and desire. Let’s face it, we all enjoy social media and want to hang around our favorite social media platforms. Rather than disappearing from social media altogether, follow these steps to allow ‘big brother’ to only get limited data on you. How Do They Get Your Data? One of the ways Cambridge Analytica was able to obtain all of that data, was through an third party app. I know you’ve seen the "Log in with Facebook" or "Log in with Google" option for certain apps or websites. Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest pop up as well, but not as often. Well, when you choose the “Log In with” option, it installs a third party app, that can have the ability to request your information or to scan your accounts and collect data. You’re thinking, that’s not legal, but actually it is because as with any app or software application, there is that pesky software agreement. None of us reads it, but in it, you’re allowing the plug in program to access your data. Why do social media accounts and third party developers want access to your accounts? Just think of all the data you share on your accounts. They have all of your personal information such as birthday, friends list, email address, employment, colleges attended, personal photos and information that your social media friends have posted about you. With this information, your social media accounts and all of those third party companies can target advertisements to you. Not everyone installs apps, so sites like Google and Facebook use the Cookies that are in your web browser. What are are Cookies? Well, they are pieces of data which are stored in web browsers that contain information about every website you’ve visited. With this information, companies can follow you around the web. Doesn’t matter if you are on Facebook or YouTube, cookies allow advertisers to know who you are and to target you because the data on you suggests you're interested in their products. Wonder how Facebook and Google know that you’ve visited a web site? This is how. It explains how ads related to your search seem to magically pop up.

What Happens With Your Data? Along with allow you to connect with friends, family and lost connections, Facebook, is collecting your data about products, Facebook Fan pages or articles you've liked, and they share that information is shared and sold to advertisers. The good news is Facebook does allow you to log in and change the information you share and also log into the to third-party apps to disable the permissions you give these apps Google tracks your online habits through searches you make on Google, its web browser Chrome, and Cookies. Like Facebook, they build profiles about you and everyone else who uses their services and sells to companies who want to buy advertising on Google products, from Gmail sidebar ads to sponsored search results. Keep Your Information Secure. Be aware that if you log in with a social media account, your data will be shared between the social network and the third-party app. No one like their information out there for everyone to see. You can completely get off the Internet, or you can use the following tips to keep prying eyes off your computer and social media accounts. 1. Keep Control of your Cookies. It’s always a great idea to clear Cookies from your devices, to conceal what other sites gather on you.

  • Windows and Macintosh users, download CCleaner to easily clean out the Cookies from your web browser.

  • iPhone and iPad users need to go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

  • Android Users: Tap your web browser icon, then tap the "Menu" button (it will look like 3 horizontal lines or dots next to the website address).tap the "Settings" option.Your device will either take you to a menu of available settings OR it will have one of the three following options. Tap on Privacy & Security, thenTap "Clear all cookie data".

2. Keep an Eye on Your Connected Apps. Sure it's convenient to be able to use Facebook or Google to log in to a web site or app, but what information are you sharing if you do? To find out do, do the following:

Facebook: From any device, go to Settings, then Apps. once there, you can see all of the apps you have connected with Facebook. If you click on the properties for each app, you can see what information is being shared.

Google: Go to accounts.google.com. Under "Sign-in & security" tab click "Apps with access to your account"Under the section "Apps connected to your account", click on Manage Apps, which will give you a view of apps and what they are sharing.

3. Stay updated on your social networks' privacy policies. Social media companies are always changing privacy policies so take a moment and understand what they are doing with you data. Only use apps or websites you feel comfortable sharing data with. Don't use your main account to log in to a site whose security you don't trust.

4. Clean Up Apps from Your Social Media Accounts. Make sure you sever the connection for apps you're not longer using. On Facebook you can do that by going to Settings, then Apps, then, Websites and Plugins. Click "Disable Platform". If you do this, it will completely disable any app to connect with Facebook. If you still want Apps to connect with Facebook, but you want to limit your information, from the Apps Settings Page, go to Apps Others Use, then click edit. Once there, you can stop sharing your information with the Apps. On Google, Go to accounts.google.com. Under "Sign-in & security" tab click "Apps with access to your account"Under the section "Apps connected to your account", click on Manage Apps, then Select app you want & click remove.

Are you done with social media? Will the information that's being shared about Google and Facebook change the way you use the Internet? Drop me a line and let me know.

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