Many of us do it daily, whether it’s posting photos or just scrolling through, logging into our favorite social media account. Email, on the other hand, is a necessity as even simple things like store receipts are going digital. But what many of us don’t fully understand – or perhaps simply ignore – is how our personal information and data is tracked when we use these online platforms. Now, security experts have issued a new alert just before this, advising users to take immediate action. Read on to find out what you should do for your Gmail and Facebook accounts to protect your information.
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When you hear “data acquisition,” it doesn’t sound all that scary at first. Most of us have been using the internet long enough to understand that some of our information is bound to end up in the digital universe, and when you’re on social media you can willingly share personal details about your life.
Websites use tracking technologies such as cookies or tracking pixels for this purpose Daniel Markusson, digital privacy and security expert at NordVPN. “These Tracking Technologies may be owned by advertising and marketing companies, government agencies, or other surveillance agencies. Usually, the owner of these websites agrees to sell your information to advertising companies in exchange for any service that the advertising company offers.”
This becomes more complicated when sites like Facebook and Google create profiles of your online behavior and identity. “That could include anything from your name, age, address and gender to your shopping habits, political leanings and physical locations, which are stored in huge databases for advertising or national security purposes,” Markuson said.
Customer data is a hot commodity, and your data can be used in ways you didn’t know you could. To avoid companies monetizing your information, there are steps you can take.
Have you ever wondered why you were looking for a new dresser and suddenly got ads from different furniture manufacturers? It has everything to do with the data exchange, according to Kim Commando, the host of The Kim Komando Show, a radio talk show discussing technology, data and the digital lifestyle. To control this, Komando recommends running a privacy check to identify additional accounts that you may have logged into using your Facebook or Google/Gmail account.
In a feature for United States today, Komando warned against using your accounts to log into different websites. It may seem easier to use your existing accounts to access new content rather than setting up a separate account and password on the site itself. But if you do, information about what you do or read on the site is likely shared with Facebook and Google, who may retaliate and return data.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent both Facebook and Google from tracking your data in this way. For every website, you should check certain security features – which shouldn’t take too long, but can reveal some surprising details.
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Gmail is easy to use and convenient, and integrating features and apps is even easier when you use Google’s Chrome browser. This convenience also comes with some challenges, as the platform allows you to use your overarching Google account to sign in to other accounts.
To check for services that may be connected, sign in to your Google account, click Security on the left, then scroll down to Linked accounts. This will bring up any accounts you’ve previously signed up for through Google. Just click Unlink to remove access. If you get a rejection and can’t unlink, that’s also by design. You must visit the third-party website directly and look for instructions on how to unlink connected accounts.
You can also further explore Google’s security page and restrict which third-party apps have access to various aspects of your Google Account, Komando said.
Your Facebook account is a personal page, but that doesn’t mean the app should share details with companies and businesses. Corresponding kind sheik, founder of CircleIt.com and two data-critical platforms, Facebook has a long history of selling user data to advertisers. In 2021, the company changed its name to Meta, and with new virtual reality initiatives more privacy issues could be raised in the future.
“Essentially, if you’re on Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp, you’re a commodity to meta,” Shaikh warned.
To control the data you give Facebook access to, take 30 seconds to log into Facebook on your computer and look for linked accounts. From there, click the down arrow in the top right corner, then click Settings & privacy, then click Select settings. You can then click Apps & Websites on the left side.
You can also do this from your iPhone or Android where you click on the three line menu, then Settings & Privacy, then Settings. Then, on iPhone, scroll down to Permissions and then tap Apps and websites. If you’re an Android user, scroll down to Security, then Apps and websites, then Signed in with Facebook.
No matter which method you choose or what device you have, Facebook then makes it relatively easy to choose which apps you want to unpair.
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