With all the Privacy Update mails that I had been receiving, I finally decided to pay some attention. Downloading and looking through the data that Facebook and Google alone kept about me, and the level of detail in it, was surprising, tedious, and an informative exercise on being cautious of what I put up there. Most surprising of it all was that I had been on Facebook for over ten years!
Ten years ago I remember my mother complaining that I am not studying and “wasting my life away on the computer”. Funny where we are today, with everyone not only on Facebook, but Gmail, Instagram, WhatApp, Telegram, and what not! Which again brings me back to the point of privacy.
Why Privacy Matters
If you have never checked the Activity Controls of your Google Account, or never checked your Location History on Facebook, be ready to freak out when you click these links. These will give you a tiny glimpse of the personal information that you have been giving away by just visiting YouTube, Google, and Facebook, from your desktop, or even worse, from your cellphone.
Though these data points help them give us personalised services (like the recommended videos on YouTube, People You May Know on Facebook and so on) these are also shared with advertisers.
Your Relatives and Friends
My parents are not interested in these privacy things today. They were not interested in Facebook ten years ago. It might be possible that they would be cautious of their online information in another ten years. Be aware of these. (Note: I updated their Google accounts to store no information. You too can do that easily by visiting your Google Account’s Activity Controls.)
If This is Too Much
If all of this went over your head, then at least install these browser add-ons, HTTPS Everywhere, Ghostery, AdBlockPlus. These cannot prevent data collection, but at least blocks some of them and gives you some security.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to know everything there is to know about Internet Privacy. There are better experts on this than me. Here is a great article talking in detail about the Privacy Updates and why you should care.