Cyber Security Digital Laws Privacy Policy

How to erase your online footprints

Online companies have made it their business to gather as much information about you as possible. What exactly do they know about you and how do you safeguard your online privacy? We will take a closer look at 5 tech giants.

Safeguarding your own privacy is constantly balancing between the pros and cons of openness. “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We more or less know what you’re thinking about. ” according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2010. The fact that Google knows so much about you makes their search engine unsurpassed. The fact that web shops monitor your purchasing behavior ensures that you get products in front of you that are relevant. That’s fine but make no mistake. Their goal is not to make your life easier: ultimately, companies are all about making money. This is best achieved by predicting and influencing your behavior based on your data. The “presentable” services they provide are designed to learn as much about you as possible.

You have provided a lot of data that companies have about you. You will also see this when you ask what the company knows about you; they are required by law. What they keep about you behind the scenes or what knowledge they put together about you with the help of data from different apps or from third parties cannot be said with certainty for an outsider.

The balance between privacy and user friendly is different for everyone. That is why it is good to think about it consciously. You can adjust platform settings to your preferences and minimize any digital traces. Here are some tips for frequently used websites.

Microsoft

Microsoft, lord, and master of the computer field. Almost everyone only used a Windows PC that gave access to the World Wide Web with Internet Explorer. With the exception of a small minority of die-hards who stuck to Mac OS. Or to an even lesser extent Linux. This monopoly position was really broken with the rise of the smartphone and tablet. That does not mean that Microsoft is no longer a major player. Windows, Office, and Xbox remain extremely popular. And are often used in conjunction with a Microsoft account.

What Does Microsoft Know About You?

Go to your Microsoft account. Click or tap “Privacy” at the top of the screen. Under “Activity overview” you can then see which data has been saved per item. Consider your search history, location of devices, but also your browser history if you use the Edge browser.

How do you erase your tracks?

Under the same “Activity overview” you can also choose per part and even sub-part what you want to delete. Click “Delete” at the desired sub-item. Do you want to delete everything in the list at once? Then click or tap “Delete activity” at the top right of the list.

Apple

We can safely say that Apple has made a significant comeback since the 1990s. Their products have become an indispensable part of the street scene. Apple devices and services rely heavily on your iCloud account and with its Apple ID. Especially for the integration between devices. For example, if you copy a photo or text on an iPhone, you can then paste it seamlessly onto a Mac. You are not obliged to do anything, but it is very handy.

What Does Apple Know About You?

Apple presents itself as a counterbalance to Google and Facebook. They use the protection of your privacy to differentiate themselves from competitors. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t collect data at all. Via your Apple ID, you can receive a copy of your data under “Data and privacy” and then “Manage your data and privacy”.

How do you erase your tracks?

Under the same “Manage your data and privacy” you have the option to delete your account. All linked data will then be permanently removed from all Apple apps and services. It’s that straightforward.

Instagram

Instagram is on the rise, partly at the expense of their parent company Facebook. The app is structured differently and seems less interested in finding out where you grew up, who you hang out with and what your mood is.

What does Instagram know about you?

Instagram obviously knows what you follow, like and share, this way they can show the right content – read: ads. It is also known which device is used and which cookies can be found on it. But wait, there is more! You can request to find out exactly what Instagram keeps about you.

How do you erase your tracks?

By creating an Instagram account with different data (such as name, e-mail address) than your Facebook account, you may be able to prevent all data from being linked too easily into an extensive profile. In any case, you can turn off the link with Facebook so it doesn’t automatically post your Instagram updates on Facebook.

Instagram’s privacy options are primarily focused on privacy from the outside world. You can limit the visibility of your account and posts through the “privacy and security section“. For example, you can prevent your account from being suggested when someone follows your friends. Just like Facebook, you can temporarily deactivate or permanently delete your account. According to Instagram, your data will then be deleted after some time.

Google

Google is everywhere in our lives. There are alternatives to everything that Google offers, but avoiding Google takes some effort and sometimes results in poorer services. The advice is, use Google services consciously and sensibly.

What does Google know about you?

If you are not logged in with your Google account, Google stores data such as search behavior in a unique ID, linked to your browser, app or smartphone. If you are logged in to a Google account, all kinds of personal information is also collected. You can download everything Google knows about you in a relatively easy way.

How do you erase your tracks?

With the “Privacy Check” for your Google account, Google also has a user-friendly way to adjust your settings and clean up your past. From your search history, locations and what you viewed on YouTube, but also voice and audio. You can also use the “Privacy Check” to adjust the settings for the future to higher privacy levels.

Facebook

This networking site is a master of seduction: everything is aimed at researching your entire personal history, mapping your family tree and “following” all your activities with place, time and group of friends. Please also share your emotion so that they can show the right ads for your current “feelings”. Ask yourself why you would tell Facebook how you feel, which party you vote for, and what your relationship status is. If you want to use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, only sharing the information you need to stay in touch with these people or clubs you like, is a good start. All settings can be found here.

What Does Facebook Know About You?

Go to Settings. Under “Your Facebook data” you can see what information about you is known to Facebook: personal data, but also location history, interest in events, payments, etc. You can also download that data here.

How do you erase your tracks?

You can deactivate (temporarily) or (permanently) delete your entire account. It cannot be said with certainty whether Facebook will actually destroy your data afterward (which is mandatory), but in any case, you are no longer visible to the outside world via this medium. You can also limit the visibility of all your posts afterward to “friends”: only the people you are friends with via Facebook will now see them. If you want to take it even more subtly, and if you have the time, you can adjust the visibility of each message or remove it completely via “activity log” (found via your own profile page, button on your cover photo).

What does the law say?

Anonymity is an illusion, on the web and smartphone age. But some privacy is guaranteed to us by law and that has been tightened up in different jurisdictional laws. To name a few: for Europe, there is the GDPR, for California, the USA there is the CCPA and CalOPPA, for Brazil the LGDP, and so on. It is mandatory for every online platform or website to have a privacy policy.