The tentacles of Google, owner of YouTube, Gmail, Android, Maps or the ubiquitous Chrome search engine; and from Facebook, also the owner of WhatsApp, Instagram or Messenger, they arrive a little less than your brain. They just have to guess what you are thinking. Although Facebook does not need it, because it asks you directly every time you connect.
Fragments of your life feed the coffers of internet platforms thanks to advertising, and they are a succulent carnaza for hackers, politicians and other curious … Even the online department stores have a business area specialized in analyzing the behavior of Your buyers to anticipate what may interest them and offer it beforehand.
“The price of our data is known, but it is constantly changing and depends on different variables. The least valuable is the postal address; what is more, the medical data. There are pages that calculate their value based on the circumstances of each user. The profile that is better is a white man, “says Marta Peirano, a collaborator of VERY, an expert in digital cryptography and author of The Little Red Book of the Activist on the Web (Roca editorial, 2015).
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization that fights for the defense of civil rights on the Web, “corporations, governments and political parties could buy this data routinely to better squeeze citizens.”
Facebook is lined with your life
Let’s go with examples. At a stroke, Facebook can categorize you according to different variables to sell to advertisers: age, location, level of education, type of work, sex, type of house, family composition, sentimental status, ethnicity and birthday. Also if you are far from your hometown, if you are expecting a baby, if you are from the right or from the left. You will be more juicy for flower advertisers if Mother’s Day approaches and it turns out that you live far from it; or for furniture stores if you just moved; or for those of contact pages if you have separated.
It is the reason why, from time to time, you find yourself on your wall with advertising tips that are so suitable for your current situation. But it is no coincidence …, because, in case it has not been clear to you, the clients of the social network are the advertisers, who pay happily for being able to place personalized and à la carte ads. Users and their intimacies are just the carnaza, a bait so succulent that we have catapulted Facebook to be the fifth most valuable brand in the world.6 tips to protect your privacy on Facebook
Let’s not fool ourselves. If you become a user of the social network created by Mark Zuckerberg you are making the game to your business. But nobody has put a gun to your chest, so complaining makes no sense. It is more practical to take advantage of what Facebook is good about, which is a lot, while protecting your privacy. You can do it if you follow these tips:
- Your privacy is not protected by default. It is a nuisance, but you have to get into each of the configuration sections and mark who you want to see your personal information, who can contact you, and so on. In the privacy section there are more options: who sees your photos, your comments on other people’s posts, your likes …
- If you do not want sites like Google to index your profile by default and appear in the list of results when you put your name in the search engine, you must explain it in the section Who can search for me?
- On the Digital Advertising Alliance website you can choose to have Facebook and other giants like Google take you out of their list of personalized advertising recipients.
- Do not share your location: it is an excellent carnaza to address tailored ads.
- Stop tagging friends. You will do them a favor by not facilitating the creation of face templates for facial recognition.
WhatsApp also tracks you
The issue of privacy has also been questioned in another of Facebook’s services, the trendy WhatsApp application, used by one billion people worldwide. The British newspaper The Guardian revealed in January 2017 that this app had a flaw in its encryption system, which allowed third parties to read what we wrote in our personal chats. Tobias Boelter, a security expert at the University of California, uncovered that his supposed end-to-end encryption assigned temporary keys that could be exchanged for new ones. This would allow to decipher the contents when they are on the platform’s servers.
Android phone owners and users of the Google Now service are also not saved. In order to improve the user experience, as always, Google Now records personal data and GPS location information to determine your routines and preferences. That is, it can automatically send you traffic or weather updates and recommendations for restaurants in the area you are in.Very comfortable, although isn’t it a bit disturbing – and irritating – that someone you don’t know knows your tastes, habits, places you frequent … almost also like you?
Less intrusive alternatives
But there are options for those who want to protect their privacy on the web. The DuckDuckGo search engine stands out among all for the protection of privacy. It does not keep search records of each user, or insert tracking cookies, or make up your profile based on connection data. The results that it shows us are the same for everyone, they don’t depend on algorithms based on the control of our preferences, as Google does. In the latter, what comes to me when I enter sun in the search box will have nothing to do with what comes out to you, especially if you are a musician and I, astrophysics. Since 2014, DuckDuckGo is included in the options of Safari and Mozilla.
There are also alternatives to WhatsApp and Messenger – both Facebook – that place greater emphasis on privacy, such as Telegram or Signal messaging systems. The latter is recommended by Edward Snowden, an expert in computer security who denounced the interference of the US National Security Agency in the communications of its citizens.