How to protect your data privacy online and on social

As the revelations continue to surface around Cambridge Analytica and their ability to harvest and then manipulate data from over 50million Facebook users, you might be wondering how to protect your data online. There are a few things to be aware of if you want to restrict who has access to your personal data.

Mobile apps and third party accessories via Facebook can blow you and your friends data wide open. Be sure to pay attention to the T&C’s especially those which require you to log in using your Facebook account – they often have a very wide range of permissions and many are specifically designed to pick up your data

■  When browsing the web use an ad blocker to limit advertising. Most browsers have plug ins that can work easily in the background while your surf the web.

■   Now is a great time to check your Facebook security settings. Take note as to what is enabled and how far your data can spread. This isn’t limited to Facebook itself be sure check the individual app settings to see how much permission you’ve given them to view your friends’ data as well as your own.

■   It’s possible to download a copy of the data Facebook & Google both hold on you, although it is not comprehensive. For Facebook, there is a download button at the bottom of the General Account Settings tab. Similarly for Google they will have a log of every search and location in real life and on the web of places you’ve visited. All of this info is by law available for download but keep in mind your data may be less secure saved on your laptop than it is on their host servers, especially if your device or wifi is hacked.

You can of course, simply leave social media for good. Facebook and Instagram are especially easy to delete, but the campaign group Privacy International warns that privacy concerns extend beyond the social networks. “The current focus is on protecting your data being exploited by third parties, but your data is being exploited all the time,” a spokeswoman recently told the BBC. “Many apps on your phone will have permission to access location data, your entire phone book and so on. It is just the tip of the iceberg.”

For some of us understanding that our data is available is an inevitable part of live in the 21st century. It’s only when groups like Cambridge Analytica get involved that the dangers become clear. Their ability to harvest this info and turn it against people to promote such dire events as Brexit and Trump should be a wake up call to many. While the heat remains squarely on the source of such data and not the groups that profit from this it will be interesting to see how the social media landscape will change in it’s aftermath.

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