Be Careful What Personal Information You Share

Who isn’t excited about some form of technology? Do you love when Apple announces a new product and there are lines wrapped around stores to be the first to buy? Are you amazed when a small child picks up a cell phone and knows exactly what it’s for?  We are a society that LOVES connecting, and you’ve got lots of choices about how to connect: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Maybe you send a Snapchat, read a blog on Medium, or love a Pintrest post from time to time too. Sharing about yourself is a fun and interactive way to connect with other people. But how safe is it?

When we create interaction in the digital world through social media, our information is used to create a profile. Your data, such as age, gender, buying habits, family, residency and more, are golden pieces of consumer data that companies collect. Some service providers such as LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Google are all free to use, but in turn they have the opportunity to sell your personal information in order to keep their services “free.” There is limitless value involved with buying and selling your personal information, as we just witnessed when LinkedIn was purchased for $26 billion dollars by Microsoft. 

Your cell phone is interacting on your behalf to share data. Several apps (especially free ones) installed on your cellphone provide user data back to the application developers. This can include location, browser information, and in some cases contacts.  All of this allows companies to sell information for advertising.  Obviously, the more targeted the advertising, the more a company can charge for it.  Google has mastered this.  Google makes approximately 90% of its revenue – roughly $67.5 billion in 2016 – from advertising.

Beyond privacy policies, you can follow a few simple steps to protect your privacy even more:

  1. Don’t post anything you don’t potentially want everyone to see.
  2. Don’t share your location, especially if you are traveling.
  3. Don’t share extremely personal information through social media, including Facebook Messsenger and other chatting applications.
  4. Make sure your passwords aren’t simple items like kid’s names, pet’s names, etc.
  5. Educate yourself about privacy settings in applications like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  6. Don’t connect with anyone you don’t actually know.

We also have to understand that regardless of what a privacy policy states, your information is not really private once you put it online. Companies generally do all they can to protect your data, but security for all social media platforms is an ongoing effort. And, the best way to keep your important information private is to do your best not to share it. When in doubt, reach out!