Breaches are just a symptom of the problem. The fundamentals of the relationship between customers and these companies are broken. I recently took the helm of the podcast IRL: Online Life is Real Life and spoke to Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism who explained further how most tech companies have built their businesses on the data they collect by tracking their users’ behavior. We all need to better grasp what the trade offs really are, because once you learn how to modify human behavior at scale, we’re talking about a kind of power now invested in these private companies,she told me. I know. The situation is messed up and it makes you want to put your head in the sand and give up on digital privacy.
Please don’t do that. Fixing our online privacy problem requires both individual and collective action. Support organizations pressuring Congress and Silicon Valley to begin to claw back our digital civil rights and take some simple steps right now to protect your families and send a message to tech companies.
Become a privacy settings ninja. Most sites and apps have privacy settings you can access, but they tuck them away several tabs deep. In a user-centric world, the default settings would take your privacy preferences into account and make them easier to update. Right now, as you’ve likely experienced, finding and adjusting your privacy settings is just hard enough that most of us give up or get distracted midway through trying to figure out what to click where. Gird yourself and press on! Try a data detox and reset your privacy options, step-by-step.
If you love Facebook but hate their data collection practices, reduce what they can track about you. Try Firefox’s Facebook Container extension, which makes it harder for Facebook to track you on the web outside of Facebook.