Fall is the big annual unboxing for mobile device manufacturers. Whether you’re buying a new smartphone or not, the basics outlined here apply to search engines and social media as well. In short, the default settings (or factory if you prefer) remain for these giants a real open door to your privacy – and with all that follows; ads, tracking, profiling, geolocation, etc.
Take, for example, the voluntary data sharing that you are asked for when you first use a product, it seems, to detect errors, improve services, develop better algorithms, etc. Recent cases or discoveries show that the collection of information in reality is very real.
As soon as you get your hands on a new device or use a new service, take the time to dig through the menus and commands to figure out what to uncheck.
Let’s start with Google devices and services, which as we know is an advertising giant. All its services (search engine, YouTube, Google Maps and others) are linked to Google accounts (required to use its online services), where you can see your own activities at myactivity.google.com.
If you’re like the billions of people who use Google services, go to the site above to disable these three categories: “Web & App Activity,” “Location History,” and “YouTube History.”
For each, you can choose to disable everything or, as several experts suggest, choose to automatically delete activities older than three months. During this time, Google services may be used to make useful recommendations for you based on your recent usage or searches.
A word about Android phones, whose newer versions allow approximate rather than precise geolocation. You can choose the location type depending on the intended use; approximate for your weather app or exact for road navigation.
Who can see what you post
Another internet giant tied to advertising revenue (of which you are the product, don’t forget), the privacy verification tool in the settings menu needs to be checked to prevent spying by a number of organizations and other marketing specialists.
For Who can see what you post, select “Only me” for people who can see your friends list and the pages you follow, and select “Friends” for people who can see your birthday.
For Who can find you on Facebook, select “Only me” for people who can find you by email or phone number.
In terms of advertising preferences, uncheck the “relationship status”, “employer”, “job title and education” items. This way, marketers cannot deliver targeted ads based on this information.
As you know, Apple mainly derives its income from the sale of products; computers, iPhone, iPad, watches and services such as iTunes, Apple TV+. Still, there are settings here and there that need to be removed.
For iPhone data sharing, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Tracking to disable Allow App Tracking. Applications are prohibited from sharing data with third parties.
Still in Privacy & Security, scroll all the way down to open Apple Advertising and uncheck Personal Ads there. As Apple states, this choice “will have the effect of limiting Apple’s ability to select relevant ads…” on its App Store, News or Exchange services.
In the same place, open Analytics and Improvements to uncheck Analytics Sharing.
Go back to the top to open Location Services > System Services (at the very bottom) to uncheck iPhone Analytics and Directions and Traffic to prevent location data from being shared with Apple.
Windows computers come with a host of data sharing settings enabled by default to help Microsoft, advertisers, and websites learn more about its users. To disable these settings, open the settings menu and click Privacy & Security, then General. This is the place to clean up.