Whether it is a picture with your friends on a Friday night at the bar or a selfie at the gym, chances are you have probably uploaded a photo or two to Facebook (or Instagram, which Facebook owns). While it surely feels good to get likes and comments from friends, the flip side is that everything you put out on the Internet can be stolen, hacked or altered.
Today’s technology makes it even easier for people and companies to take advantage of your private data. In fact, a New York Times report recently revealed that a company called Clearview AI used three billion images gathered from millions of websites to create a facial-recognition app with a massive searchable database of faces.
And they’re licensing the software to the police.
Though companies like Clearview unfortunately exist (really, what they’re doing should be illegal), you can take several measures to ensure your photos remain private (or at least more private). Once you’re on Facebook, navigate to Settings > Privacy and look for the option that asks if you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile.
Once you turn that off, Clearview (and other data-munching intruders) won’t be able to take hold of your photos (although that will only apply to new photos, they’ve already got your old ones from before you changed the setting).
Other safety tips that can help protect your content include limiting the visibility of future posts to only friends. You can also make sure only your friends can search for your profile using personal contact information such as an e-mail address or phone number.
Changing your “Timeline and Tagging” settings can also do wonders in keeping your data hidden. And if you have friends who tend to post embarrassing photos without consulting you first, you can turn on the review option. This puts the power of posting back in your hands.
Of course, most people maintain at least a few social media accounts. That means you should also take the time to check the security settings on your Instagram, Twitter and even YouTube accounts.
Start out by making a comprehensive list of all the social networks in which you share content. Once you have exhausted your brain scrolling through the pages of apps in your phone, take the time to do a security debriefing of sorts. Perhaps it would be best to make your SnapChat private, so cyberstalkers or your parents don’t see what you’re up to on a Saturday night at 2 a.m.
Just a thought.