By definition, a social network is an Internet application that allows you to create content and share it with other users. It’s this community aspect that makes them so popular, but it is also what can put our privacy at risk. It is important to note that maintaining security and privacy on social networks is essential. It is a way to protect our computers, but also to prevent our personal information from being leaked online.
The concept of digital privacy is relatively young since it is linked to the emergence and development of the Internet. In fact, until recently there was no clear regulation in this regard. Every day there are more debates and conversations on the ethical use of this data and the importance of understanding what information we are sharing with large companies such as Facebook or Google.
How to keep it private?
Social networks have become databases in which personal information and documents about the real-life activities of the people are collected. To protect your information you can take some actions:
1. Make your accounts private:
Something basic to improve privacy on social networks is to make accounts private. In this way, we can prevent anyone from accessing our profile and seeing what we share. We can configure it so that only the contacts that we have “added” or “follow” can look at our profile.
2. Manually configure privacy settings:
On many occasions, social networks allow you to manually configure a series of parameters to improve privacy. For example, on Facebook we can prevent our being automatically tagged in photos or posts; or we can prevent strangers from sending us friend requests. According to the newspaper El País (Galán, 2019), 40% of social network users never modify the privacy conditions of their devices so they do not know or control the information they share. This measure helps us understand what information is public and forces us to review the security parameters with which the social networks we use operate.
3. Know what types of personal data are stored and shared by social networks:
When registering with a social network, most users voluntarily give their name, gender, date of birth, and email address, but some apps do not stop with that data. It is normal for them to collect other information, such as the IP address or things you liked, shared, or commented on.
Sometimes the option is offered to use your Facebook credentials to log in to other third-party apps. While this may be convenient, it could allow, without your knowledge, other websites to access more personal information than necessary. One way to make sure you don’t share too much information is to always read the fine print. When modifying your privacy settings on any social media platform, look for the “Applications and Websites” option under “Settings”. Please carefully review which websites use your information.
The debate about privacy on the Internet is more and more frequent, so it is important that users empower themselves and take the possible measures to inform themselves about the use of their personal data. Also we should demand transparency from the different platforms and applications that collect this information.