Because we’re all online and we all hand over our data each day, it’s important to understand the basic things about how that data can be used and how much of it you’re giving away. Managing and understanding your online presence is something we can all get better at. If you’re willing to learn more, you can get better at protecting your data and personal privacy when you’re online.
Be Careful About Revealing Your Location
Revealing your location could put you at risk if you’re not careful. That’s why things like geolocations should be used carefully. It’s often the case that your social media posts will come with a small tag underneath telling the world where you’re posting from. You should always be careful about revealing your location, and you might want to remove that function on social media.
You Should Google Yourself to Track What’s Out There
Googling yourself is not something that only celebrities and egomaniacs should do. It’s something that everyone should do so that you can be clear about what information about you is out there and how easy it is to find. It’s also good from a career point of view because potential employers will Google you before hiring you, so it’s good to see what they see. You can then change things and try to control the information out there if you want to.
Your Data is Collected and Sold
When you use social media platforms, we all see them as being free, but that doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. Your data is collected and sold for profit every time you use social media. This is how social media platforms can be made profitable, and you have to give consent for this to happen when you start using these platforms, even if not everyone knows about all this.
Your IP Address Can Say a Lot About You
Many people are careful about their IP address and they’re right to do so. As well as giving away your location, it makes it much easier to track what you’re doing online. Resources like what's my IP can tell you more and help you with changing it if you want to. Using a VPN can hide your IP address when you're browsing online as well.
Understand the Impact of Privacy Settings and Terms of Service on Social Media
Privacy settings on social media dictate how your profiles function and who can see them. If you want to keep things private and away from professional contacts or employers, you should probably strengthen your privacy settings. It’s also a good idea to familiarise with the terms of service of these platforms so you actually know what you’re getting into.
We all have some kind of online presence, and how we deal with this and manage it will matters a lot going forward. It’s not just about staying safe and avoiding cyber crime; it’s also about staying private and understanding how internet giants are actually benefiting from your online activity.
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Walter Guevara is a Computer Scientist, software engineer, startup founder and currently mentors for a coding bootcamp. He has been creating software for the past 15 years.