As a final note on Privacy, I’m going to share the very small, pretty much painless, but still important steps you may consider taking in order to preserve the online privacy you have, and increase it going forward.
First, consider your email provider. Unless you’re using a service like Proton mail, your emails are being read by the service provider. They do this surveillance of your correspondence in order to harvest your personal information and sell it to third parties, who then place those irritating ads in your email inbox. Perhaps you don’t care if someone reads your mail. Perhaps you do. Act accordingly and consider switching to a more private provider who doesn’t monitor or monetize the content of your correspondence.
Most people I know who’ve done this do it over a period of time, allowing friends and colleagues time to change the info in their contacts folders. Give yourself 3 to 6 months.
The second thing you might want to consider is the internet browser that you use. The same tracking practices that are used on your emails are used by many browsers owned by tech giants. Again, if you want your browsing history to be more private (I’m not really sure if it can be completely private) then opt out of the most popular and go to the more ethical. Information about browser options as they relate to privacy are abundant online, and switching is easy. (Hey, I did it, so you know it’s simple.)
A third thing you can do is opt out of the most popular search engines. Browsing history, data collection, targeting advertising, undue influence–the equation is the same here.
Obviously, the most important thing you can do in order to protect your privacy is to retreat from social media. In the (very) brief time that I considered doing Facebook ad campaigns for my books, I got a glimpse behind the curtain at how much information Facebook has on its users. I was stunned, but I shouldn’t have been. More than one online ad expert had told me that if I ever realized how much information the private company had on people, I would not be Facebook user or advertiser. They were right.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp are also harvesters of your personal data. So feel free to look for non-invasive options like Signal. And, again, give yourself a window of time. I am not well-versed enough in mobile phone technology to advise anyone on what they can do to limit exposure on their phones. I welcome any comments on that subject as well.
I hope this small series has been helpful. It’s far from expert, and it’s impossible to be comprehensive about such a broad and fluid subject. But Privacy is key. Guard yours wisely.