Big tech companies are an integral part of our daily lives. We text each other on our Apple and Android smartphones, share photos on Facebook, shop on Amazon, work on our Microsoft and Apple computers, and on Google all day.
It’s no longer a secret that Big Tech tracks what we do and aggregates our data to sell it to advertisers. Tap or click to stop one of the biggest offenders, Facebook, from following you around the web.
If you’re serious about privacy, you might be ready to destroy your private information on the web – or as much as you can, at least. Tap or click to delete yourself from the Internet.
Let’s look at a company that I bet you interact with most of the time, Google. Here are three settings you need to check.
1. Don’t let others know what you’re doing with Google
Each time you use a Google service, your interactions are recorded in your My Activity page. This page displays everything you searched for, photos you took, YouTube videos you watched, how you used Google apps, and more.
A lot of people don’t know that you can password protect everything. Who needs this new functionality?
Let’s say you share a computer or everyone in your house knows your system password. One click is enough, and everything you have done with Google is free. Yes, they will also see anything you would be embarrassed to talk about at the table. Even if it’s not your concern, it’s best to be safe if your phone or laptop ends up in the wrong hands.
Here’s how to lock it:
- Visit myactivity.google.com on a computer.
- You will see a pop-up window that says: “Safer with Google: You can add more security to My Activity by enabling additional verification.” Click on Manage.
- Select the option for Require additional verification, then hit Save.
From now on, you will need to enter your password to view and delete your history. Saving your Google password on your browser or computer defeats the purpose. It is best to use a secure password that you will remember.
Wait they know what? Find out what Google is tracking and how you can erase it.
2. Check the Google Photo tracking setting
I recently wrote about the wealth of information you can see in Google Maps. You can trace your travels for years, up to the route. Tap or click to view waypoints to view this map and turn off tracking.
You might not realize that Google Photos collects the same kind of information. You can see wherever you’ve been as a series of photos on a map. Did you take a road trip and take photos along the way? The digital trail is there for you to see.
- Open the Google Photos app and tap Search.
- Under Places, you will see Your card. Tap it, then scroll down to view your photos as a list, or zoom in on the map and select a location to see the photos you’ve taken there.
It may seem like a nice walk down memory lane. If you don’t mind, there is nothing to change. If you are not so enthusiastic about this feature, you have a few steps you can take.
- On a computer, open Google Maps. Select the three-line menu, then click Your calendar.
- At the bottom of the screen, click Manage position history.
- This will open your Google account Activity checks page.
- If location history is enabled, the cursor will be blue. Click on it to turn it off, and it should turn gray. This will prevent Google from tracking future movements or geotagging photos.
- There is also a Automatic deletion option, where you can choose a period for location data to be automatically deleted. This ranges from photos older than three months to photos older than 36 months.
To delete something newer, follow these steps:
- Open Google Photos on a PC.
- In the upper right corner, click the Parameter wheel.
- Scroll down and click Sharing.
- Activate the slider for Hide location data from photos.
You are on a roll. Want to cover a few more security steps? Tap or click here to discover three quick privacy fixes you need to get started.
3. A new type of monitoring
Visit a new website and there is a good chance you will get a pop-up asking you to allow cookies. Cookies track which sites you visit and what you do there. They do practical things like logging your passwords and what’s in your online shopping carts, but at the expense of your privacy. All of this data is used to target you with advertisements.
Google removes third-party cookies. No, this does not mean that your information will not be shared with advertisers. The method changes, however. Google’s Federated Cohort Learning, or FLoC, works behind the scenes of the Chrome browser for some users. This type of follow-up groups you with people with similar interests.
Bennett Cyphers of the privacy-focused nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation says FLoC was created to “avoid the privacy risks of third-party cookies, but it will create new ones in the process.”
If you are using Chrome, you may be “FLoCed” without even knowing it. Visit amifloced.org to find out if you are part of the trial.
You have two options if you are. You can turn off any third-party tracking in Chrome.
- Click it three-dot settings menu.
- Go to Privacy and Security > Cookies and other site data.
- Choose the option for Block third-party cookies.
If you don’t want to deal with all of that, now is the time to find a new browser. Tap or click to access my browser’s privacy-focused rating from best to worst.
NEED A HAND WITH A SLOW PC, WI-FI PROBLEMS OR A PRINTER PROBLEM YOU CAN’T CREATE? Post your technical questions to get concrete answers from me and other tech professionals. Visit my question and answer forum and get technical help now.
What questions are you asking yourself about the digital lifestyle? Call Kim’s National Radio Show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Komando show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
Copyright 2021, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.
Discover all the latest technologies on the Kim Komando show, the largest weekend radio talk show in the country. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.