What’s all the fuss about this time?
Facebook has been under some pretty hot scrutiny regarding user's privacy and sharing data, which adds even more weight to the question, “how can I enjoy social media in private?“. First, and it’s kind of crazy that I even have to mention this, review your security settings, and don’t post private information, ever! Vacation plans, photos of new expensive items, the fact that you don’t lock your door… One would think that these obvious steps would be enough to keep your information safe online. Wrong!
Enter the creep factor.
You know those ads you see online that seem to be reading your mind? In a sense, they are.
Let’s keep in mind that the social media giant isn’t the only website that collects and shares your data. The data in question isn’t always your actual personal information. It’s more like a collection of your browsing habits which is then analyzed and translated into a profile, which is, most of the time, a pretty accurate description of you. When you visit certain websites, there are tracking codes and cookies and fruit cakes, and pies… (just kidding on the last ones) which collects and delivers tiny bits of information about your online use.
The websites we visit can tell a lot about us. For example, let’s say you visit an auto website and browse mini-vans. They have a luxury edition model, which you click on and then start to research more about. Next, you go to a financing website to check out your options. Better pay a few bills online while you’re thinking about it. Oh! You forgot that you needed to register your dog so you now check the local town halls website and clicked on the “register your dog” tab. Since you’re already online, you might as well schedule your hair dentist appointment and order some wine. Don’t forget to bookmark the page you were looking at when you were researching your vacation to somewhere fancy, and look up the maid service number while you’re at it. What could we assume from this info?
Looking for a minivan
Probably a parent
Probably likes high-end items
Checking out financing options and paying bills
Probably has good credit/income
Gives geographical location
Dentist appointment scheduled
Conducts personal business online
Planning a fancy vacation
Travels abroad – not always home
These tidbits of information alone may not seem powerful, but the more bits and pieces a scammer has, the easier it is for them to cause chaos. Advertisers collect these fragments of information to put together a profile if-you-will. A profile of your browsing habits gives them the information needed to custom tailor their ads to what is current, interesting, and relevant to you, individually. Your friends will have their own unique ads too! You're all not imaging it... I promise!
If you are concerned about your identity and your privacy, what it boils down to is this... use common sense with the content you post, and if you aren't sure how to check your privacy settings, ask someone who does! (Like us)