Share less about yourself online to foil data brokers and keep your identity private.
If you’ve been reading SecurityWatch for a while, I’m assuming you follow the best practices for online safety: keep your antivirus updated, use a password manager for your logins around the web, and enable multi-factor authentication for your online accounts. You might even use a VPN for a more private browsing experience. You’ve done everything you can to secure your online experience, yet there’s a very good chance you will still see ads for your uncle’s preferred food powder when you open up Instagram. Why? Data brokers connect the information you post publicly on social media with your device’s location or contact data.
Online ads are one way your data can be used against you; other ways include scam calls and texts or targeted phishing emails or text messages. Here’s how to put a stop to that now.
Don’t Sell Yourself on Social Media
Social media allows data brokers to put an actual face on all the personal information you post around the web. Every selfie you share, every life event you celebrate, it’s all online forever. Data brokers use those details to create a dossier on you that can be sold to anyone for the right price. Unless you make your living through social media, I recommend keeping your social media profiles private.
Developers also use social media login data to connect your online identities. Some websites allow you to log in with your Facebook or Twitter details, so your activity is connected to that identity all around the web. A better and more private option is to create a secondary email address that you only use for social media signups and logins. That way, it’s harder for advertisers and data brokers to pin that activity to your primary email address or social media logins.
Surfshark put together a nice collection of infographics(Opens in a new window) for anyone looking for a more secure online browsing experience. Among them is the graphic below that shows key features to disable on your social media accounts to keep your experience private. For example, if you want to prevent other people from seeing when you’re active on Instagram, follow the steps below:
- Go to Settings
- Tap on Privacy
- Go to Activity status
- Toggle off Show activity status
Image Credit: Surfshark