Keep your hands off my data!

Default privacy settings you should change right now...


Say no to defaults.

A clickable guide to fixing the complicated privacy settings from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

big brotherOn the Internet, the devil’s in the defaults.

You’re not reading all those updated data policies flooding your inbox. You probably haven’t even looked for your privacy settings. And that’s exactly what Facebook, Google and other tech giants are counting on.

They tout that we are “in control” of our personal data, but know most of us won’t change the settings that let them grab it like cash in a game show wind machine. Call it the Rule of Defaults: 95 percent of people are too busy, or too confused, to change a darn thing.

Give me 15 minutes, and I can help you join the 5 percent who are actually in control. I dug through the privacy settings for the five biggest consumer tech companies and picked a few of the most egregious defaults you should consider changing. These links will take you directly to what to tap, click and toggle for Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

Some of their defaults are just bonkers.

  • Google has been saving a map of everywhere you go, if you turned on its Assistant when you set up an Android phone.
  • Amazon makes your wish list public - and keeps recordings of all your conversations with Alexa.
  • Facebook exposes to the public your friends list and all the pages you follow, and it lets marketeers use your name in their Facebook ads.
  • By default, Microsoft’s Cortana in Windows 10 gobbles up… pretty much your entire digital life.

My inspiration for poring over the fine print was the European General Data Protection Act, or GDPR, that recently went into effect and prompted all those privacy policy emails. I checked what the largest tech companies have changed - other than their legalese - about default settings or the amount of data they collect on us. The shocking answer: almost nothing. (Facebook is also rolling out new privacy controls, but not actually changing your options… or even taking away many clicks.)

My suggestions are small acts of resistance - there are further settings, privacy-minded apps and Web browser add-ons that could take you on a deeper dive. (I’d love to hear what else has worked well for you.) Changing the defaults I list here means that you’ll get less personalization from some services, and might see some repeated ads. But these changes can curtail some of the creepy advertising fuelled by your data, and, in some cases, stop these giant companies from collecting so much data about you in the first place. And that’s a good place to start.

Check how to fix Privacy Settings by clicking on the relevant company below:

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Netwise 04.06.18