Controlling Privacy: Part of Agreement between Social Media and Users

If you use social media services like Facebook, you should know that many of your habits and the small details of your personal and daily life are information that is stored somewhere. Everything we post about our family, friends, education, politics, travel habits, taste in clothing and connection to a specific kind of device is prime material, which is susceptible to being analyzed by a third party in order to determine some future behavior of ours.

That’s why the concerns about privacy and the controls applied to the information shared by users must be handled with care. Users may notice that Facebook constantly updates its policies and settings related to privacy. Nevertheless, sometimes Facebook has not handled the information contained in user profiles in the best way.

In 2014, 270,000 people were invited to take an online test for an application called “thisisyourdigitallife” developed by a researcher from Cambridge University. While using the app, participants, knowingly or not, gave their consent to the collection of information about their friends, which allowed the app to access data from millions of additional profiles.

Once we get past this situation, it is clear that users must remember that they are the product. Nonetheless, it is possible for users to restrict the information they want to be shared with third parties, knowing that this consent is also part of their responsibility, which is why there are certain practices that can be useful in helping to protect your data:

1. You should frequently check the applications which are using your Facebook account to log into a website, game or third-party app. These services already continue to access personal data if we do not interrupt the connection to personal profiles;

2. It is advisable to regularly check the privacy setting of your Facebook account. If you are concerned about what details about the user and their Facebook friends the applications can share, then it is a good time to check the configuration of privacy settings and minimize the information that the apps share publicly;

3. Carefully (and rigorously) read the privacy policy of the terms of service when you subscribe, or when applications are installed using your Facebook profile;

4. Periodically delete search histories. Each browser has its own mechanism to eliminate the data generated during web browsing. It is also advisable to enable browsing in incognito mode, and

5. Avoid using applications from unknown companies. In the case of the application “thisisyourdigitalife,” the fine print says that information is collected for academic use, not commercial use.

So the protection of our “online life” is also part of our responsibility as users, and that’s why you should not ever forget about the enormous amount of information that is shared with the outside world through social networks.

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