Everyone knows the protocol: whenever you download a new app or make a new profile and the “terms and conditions” page pops up, you immediately click “accept” and move on with your life. Nobody has the time to sit and comb through pages of fine-print rules and regulations. We all just assume that those really don’t matter.
But, when you think about it, just about anything could be in those terms and conditions. We could all be signing our houses over or signing up for some type of experiment without even realizing it. Of course, that’s probably not what’s going on. But what is at stake when we so freely “accept” terms and conditions is our privacy.
Although this is an alarming use of what should be our private information, this is just the tip of the iceberg for how Facebook collects and shares details about our lives. By signing up for Facebook, we are essentially participating in a dating game show: Facebook uses all our interest, our searches, and our purchases and matches us up with advertisers to sell to us. So, next time you Google a pair of shoes you want, and then an hour later those same shoes are being advertised on the sidebar of your Facebook profile, know that it’s all a part of your agreement to the site. You can actually download the information Facebook has about you and read word for word your “profile” that the site has been developing over so many years.
In 2012, Obama proposed the Privacy Bill of Rights, an effort to make data collection more transparent and to give users more control over their profiles and information. Congress didn’t pass it. If we’re offered little protection from governmental laws and regulations, what can we do to prevent tracking?
Most browsers have an option in the privacy settings to allow you to block third party cookies, but you should also delete cookies as well. You can also change the privacy settings on your phone to “Limit Ad Tracking.” It would also help to log out of all social media as you are surfing the web.
Although having the internet at our fingertips at all times is beneficial, the reality of our vulnerability is often forgotten. It’s easy to overlook what may be in the fine print, but if you’re wary to having your information collected and sold, it may be helpful to know what you’re signing up for.