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Internet and Data Privacy Guide

Tips for building a privacy practice with a critical technology lens

First-Party Data Collection

Social media, email, and web browsers are first-party data collection parties. When you interact with these sites, information about your behavior is stored in the company’s proprietary databases; while you scroll Instagram, Instagram will note your scrolling and network behavior to curate the posts and advertisements on your feed. First-party data collectors can make money selling your data to third-parties; so even if the service is free, companies are able to profit from your activity on their website and personal information revealed through website interaction. 

Below is a non-exhaustive list of how to protect your privacy and data while using first-party data collectors like social media, email, and other internet services.

Image Credit: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/11/deep-dive-eff-dhs-stop-mass-collection-social-media-information

Privacy Concerns on Social Media

Facebook

Facebook Help page about privacy settings on Facebook.

Wired article from March 2018 about how to increase your privacy on Facebook using Facebook's privacy tools.

Regularly updated Lifewire guide to Facebook privacy.

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:F_icon.svg

Instagram

Instagram Help page about privacy settings on Instagram.

May 2019 Verge article about privacy on Instagram, including monitoring your account for potential hacks.

Regularly updated Lifewire guide to privacy on Instagram.

Image Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instagram_logo_2016.svg

Privacy Concerns with Google Products

  • Google Help page about securing a Google account.
  • Google Help page about privacy settings on a Google account.
  • A November 2018 article about sending confidential emails in Gmail. Google is still able to access the information in these confidential emails; instead, they self-destruct after a predetermined amount of time.
  • Regularly updated Consumer Report article about increasing security on Google accounts.
  • May 2019 guide from Fast Company about maximizing your use of Google security settings.

Privacy Concerns with Non-Chrome Web Browsers

  • An August 2019 article about choosing a browser for privacy from Lifehacker. Includes information about Tor, DuckDuckGo, and how to make Chrome more secure.
  • Mozilla Firefox is a popular privacy-focused browser that is advertised as a secure Google competitor. However, Mozilla has had a financial relationship with Google since 2007. Google has been the default browser on Firefox since 2004, pausing revenue relations for a spell after a 2014 review period. As most of Mozilla's revenue comes from global browser search partnerships, this opens up the possibility that the Mozilla Foundation's commitment to privacy is largely financed by Google money.

Privacy Concerns on Email

  • Lifewire's regularly updating list of the most secure email services. 
  • Riseup.net is a popular secure email and VPN service managed by a non-profit autonomous tech collective. While they usually support accounts for liberatory projects, anyone willing to abide by the collective's terms of service can get an email address through Riseup. Riseup's server is in the United States and complies with U.S. laws. The collective has physical (instead of cloud control) over their services.

Phishing

In addition to the concerns above, there are scammers on the internet that will attempt to exploit human psychology in order to get you to reveal sensitive personal information such as passwords. These "Phishing" scams are designed to steal your information so that bad actors on the internet can make money through fraudulent means. However, there are lots of resources available to help you avoid these scenarios.

Avoiding Phishing Scams