Understanding Data Privacy

In the age of social media and e-commerce, individuals are feeling an increasing lack of control over their personal data. However, there are steps you can take to learn about the types of data you’re generating online, and how it’s collected, shared and used. Follow these basic privacy tips to help you better manage your personal information and make informed decisions about who receives your data.

Value Your Personal Information

When you download a new app, open a new online account, or join a new social media platform, you will often be asked for access to your personal information before you can even use it! This data might include your geographic location, contacts, and photos.

For these businesses, this personal information about you is tremendously valuable – and you should think about if the service you get in return is worth the data you must hand over, even if the service is free.

Make informed decisions about sharing your data with businesses or services:

  • Is the service, app, or game worth the amount or type of personal data they want in return?
  • Can you control your data privacy and still use the service?
  • Is the data requested even relevant for the app or service?

Protect Your Data

Data privacy and data security go hand-in-hand. Along with managing your data privacy settings, follow some simple cybersecurity tips to keep it safe. We recommend following:

  • Create long (at least 16 characters), unique passwords for each account and device. Use a password manager to simplify your password management – maintaining dozens of strong passwords securely is now easier than ever.
  • Turn on multifactor authentication (MFA) wherever it is supported – this keeps your data safe even if your password is compromised.
  • Turn on automatic device, software, and browser updates for personally managed systems, or make sure you install updates as soon as they are available.
  • Be wary of phishing messages, which can be sent as emails, texts, or direct messages. Participating in cybersecurity awareness trainings can help train you to recognize phishing messages.

Social Media Can Last A Lifetime

There is no such thing as undo or delete when it comes to sharing content online. Information posted to social media may be reposted several times within seconds and the owner no longer has control over it. Ensure you are sharing only what you intend to share. Online posts can last a lifetime and may have effects beyond what was intended or expected.

Keep Tabs On Your Apps

Many apps ask for access to personal information, such as your geographic location, contacts list and photo album, before you can use their services. Be thoughtful about who gets that information, and wary of apps that require access to information that is not required or relevant for the services they are offering. For example, would a Solitaire game applicaiton need access to your all of your contacts?  Delete unused apps on your internet-connect devices and keep others secure by performing updates.

Manage Your Privacy Settings

Check the privacy policy and security settings on web services and apps and set them to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application or browser you use will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information. Get started with NCSA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page:https://staysafeonline.org/resources/manage-privacy-settings/

Please view below video showing how taking control of your data privacy can affect your Facebook experience.

Data Privacy Week is January 22-28th. Visit the Univeristy of Richmond's Data Privacy Week site to be #PrivacyAware