Online privacy: Tips to protecting yourself

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Google Alerts — Setting up a Google Alert is easy. Doing so will inform you of when your specified search term i.e., your name, is mentioned. It only will inform you of future postings. However as you’re filling out the form, a field to your right will populate with past postings.

Google Maps — If you’ve ever typed in your address on Google Maps and looked at the street view, it can be unsettling. A clear picture of your house is right there for all the world to see. What’s more, you can zoom in and out, up and down — you get a complete 360-degree view of your house and your neighborhood. If you feel like this is an invasion of your privacy, you can request Google to blur your home. They don’t guarantee it, but the option is available for you to make your concerns known.

Here’s how:

1.) Locate the image in Street View.
2.) Click “Report a problem” in the bottom-right corner of your screen.
3.) Complete the form and click “Submit.”

You will receive an email from Google confirming your request was received. Read more from Google about their privacy and security settings.

Twitter — Twitter is like public texting, but there is a way to make your tweets private. Doing so will allow only those you allow to follow and see your tweets. To lock down your tweets, follow these steps: Settings > Security and privacy > Check “Protect my Tweets.”

Below the option to protect your tweets is the ability to delete your location information. If you’ve posted pictures with geo-tags (more about geo-tags later) it’s possible you’ve posted a picture revealing your location, like your home. Simply click the “Delete all location information” button to erase this information.

Facebook IconsFacebook — When you post to Facebook, if you see an icon that looks like a gray globe beside the timestamp, your posts are public. If you see what looks like two heads, your posts are seen only by friends. If you see a wheel, your posts are customized so that only the friends you’ve selected can see your posts. You have the option of changing the permissions of past posts by simply clicking on the icon.

fbpostFor each future post, you can customize the level of privacy by making a selection next to the post button prior to publishing. Doing so gives you control — and peace of mind — over who sees your posts and pictures.

fbsettingsIf you don’t want any of your posts to be public, there is a simple solution that will allow only your friends to see your posts. Follow these steps: Click the lock button in the upper left corner next to your name > Click “Who can see my stuff?” > In the provided drop-down menu, click “Friends.”

For more Facebook privacy tips, check out this article from Mashable.

Geotagging — When location settings are on, geotagging is enabled on your smart phone, meaning when you post a picture, its location is included in the metadata of the image. So that adorable picture of your cat laying paws up on your couch that you posted to Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere is like a public billboard of your home address. Sound scary? Here’s how to adjust your phone’s settings: iPhone, Android & Blackberry

If your phone wasn’t listed or if you have further questions about Geotagging, contact your service provider for instructions on disabling this option.

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