Privacy Settings on Google and Facebook that You Should Know

in LeoFinance2 years ago

28th January was Data Privacy Day and I wanted to post some data privacy tips but did not get the chance until now. Most of my readers are probably Steemians but I am sure many of you are also users of Google and Facebook. Even though I am of the opinion that there is no true privacy on the internet, we should still do whatever we can to protect our privacy. Hence, here are some tips to improve your privacy on Google and Facebook.

Data Privacy Day

Google Privacy Settings

You can access your Google privacy settings by heading over to "My Account". If you are already logged in, you should be able to see the "Data & Personalisation" section. Within the section, you will be able to "Take a Privacy Check-up". This is a simple and guided way, offered by Google, for you to tweak your privacy settings.

Google Privacy Check-up

Through the privacy check-up, you can tweak a number of settings. Notably the following,

  • Web & App activities
  • Location history
  • Voice and audio recordings
  • YouTube activities & history
  • Google photo geo-location
  • Allowing/disallowing people to discover you through your phone number
  • "About Me" profile page
  • Google Ads settings

Among the list, you will probably find Web & App activities the most fascinating. Not only does Google tracks all your searches, it also tracks your App usage. For instance, Google knows that I have launched "Blockfolio" for 16 times today 😒. It also knows at what time do I launch the application and from which device did I launch the app from.

My Blockfolio launches today

There are many settings that you can configure, but here are some of the settings that I made for my account.

Auto-delete Web & App Activities after 3 months

Truth be told, having your web search history is quite handy and convenient. Hence, I did not turn off my Web & App activities totally. However, you can ask Google not to store your web & app history perpetually. Which is precisely what I did as I opt to auto-delete my activities after 3 months.

Choosing how long to keep your activities

I think this is reasonable privacy protection for me as these days I typically only use Google for work related searches. For personal searches, my default search engine has been DuckDuckGo. In addition, I also only use Chrome for work related web browsing. For personal stuff, I mainly use Brave and Firefox these days.

Turn off and clear location history

I seldom search for a place repeatedly and each search is usually to find some place new. Therefore I see no reason to keep my location history and hence I turned it off.

Location history

It is important to know that by turning off your location history, you are only asking Google to not save your location history moving forward. If you want to clear your earlier history, you still need a few more clicks.

Turned off Ad personalisation and Disable "Better Sharing"

I do not need Google to tell me what to buy or see. Hence, I turned off Ad personalization. On top of that, I turned off "Better Sharing" because I do not want people who have my phone number to be able to immediately link it to my Google profile.

Ad personalisation

"Better Sharing"

Turned off Voice and audio recordings activity

I do not use voice searches or commands on my phone. Hence, there is no reason to keep this on. There is no guarantee that your phone is no secretly recording what you say, but this is the least you can do.

Voice and audio recordings activity

Limit my "About Me" page

I restricted access to information such as my birthday and gender as I see no reason to share these information to the public. This setting likely has direct impact on what you can find when you search for yourself on Google.

"About Me"

Facebook Privacy Settings

The Facebook mobile app offers a "Privacy Checkup" feature which is very similar to Google. You should walk through the "Privacy Checkup" and configure your privacy settings accordingly. Following are some key settings that you can tweak through the "Privacy Checkup",

  • Who can see what you share
  • How people can find you on Facebook
  • Data settings on Facebook

To access it, you click on the question mark at the top of your profile page and select "Privacy Checkup".

Accessing Facebook Privacy Checkup

Facebook Privacy Checkup

A quick pointer. By changing who can see what you share on Facebook, you are only limiting future posts. Hence, it is also important to limit your past posts.

Though Facebook offers the "Privacy Checkup" just like Google, they are a little sneaky here (as usual). There are a several important privacy settings that are not part of the "Privacy Checkup" and here are some that I think you should tweak.

Location settings

If you do not want Facebook to access your location, remember to turn this off. Similar to Google, you have to clear your past location history separately.

Location Settings

To access this, go to "Settings" -> "Location".

Face recognition

Facebook has numerous pictures and have developed very advanced facial recognition technologies. If you do not want to be recognized just by having your picture uploaded to Facebook, be sure to turn off this setting.

Face recognition

To access this, go to "Settings" -> "Face Recognition".

Allow your Facebook profile to be searchable on Search Engines

This is pretty self-explanatory. If you do not want your Facebook profile to be listed when someone search for your name on Google, then turn this off.

Searchable profile

To access this, go to "Settings" -> "Privacy".

Ads Settings

You can also tweak your Ads settings on Facebook. It is somewhat similar to Google's Ads personalisation. Turn it off if you do not want Facebook to influence what you buy and see.

Under Ads settings, you will be able to see how Facebook "categorizes" you. Head over to "Your Information" and you will be able to see what you can turn on/off and manage.

Facebook Ads Settings

To access this, go to "Settings" -> "Ads".

Your Off-Facebook Activity

This is very important. Your Off-Facebook activity includes information that businesses and organizations share with Facebook. You can clear these information and disconnect future Off-Facebook activities.

Off-Facebook Activity

Off-Facebook activities are information which Facebook collects through sites that use Facebook logins and pixels. These are very powerful data-mining tools that Facebook utilizes to fingerprint and profile you.

To access this, go to "Settings" -> "Your Facebook Information".

Review posts that you are tagged in

Surprisingly, Facebook did not categorize this setting as a "Privacy" setting and it is found in the general settings category -> Timeline and Tagging.

Facebook Tag Review

You might have done your best to limit what people can see about you on Facebook. But you just need one friend to tag you in a picture/comment and your info may potentially be shown to the public. Hence, I regard this as an important setting.


There you go. The above are some of the most important privacy settings that you should consider changing on Google and Facebook.

You may ask, even though you have configured these settings, is there any guarantee that these companies will oblige to them? Unfortunately, there can be no guarantee and such is the problem of centralization. However, if you did configure all these privacy settings, law will be on your side when sh!t hits the fan (e.g. data leak due to massive hack) and you will potentially be able to sue these companies when sh!t happens 😛.

I always say that Steem is a platform of real openness while others are platforms with fake privacy. Avoidance is always the best way to protect your privacy. Therefore, you should only upload stuff that you will never regret sharing and do not mind having it on public. At this point, based on how the internet works, there is seriously no such thing as real privacy.

Stay safe and stay private!

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Thanks for sharing this. I will have to go and have a re-look at my settings. 😊 Have a great weekend.

You are welcome!

Hi @culgin

As I always say in my constant evolution is well marked the learning of things that one learns in these readings, I did not know about these security tips.

Thanks, buddy. How are you?

Great that you find it useful. I am fine and I hope you are doing well too

Good Tips.

In today's world, privacy is much like a luxury, it can even happen that some state security agencies become suspicious when a person tries hard to cover their steps and erase their tracks, after all, if you try hard to Being anonymous you start to look suspicious.

It also happens that we can simply have the desire not to be bombarded with advertising focused on our "target", but on the other hand, by not providing information about these things we may miss some content that could be of interest to us ... as I see, it is a complicated game between what we earn and what we lose in terms of privacy and use of our data, being that the addition and subtraction account will never be entirely satisfactory.

It is complicated. But I think the essence of it lies in awareness and consent. I am ok to provide information, but I want to know why my info is needed and how will they be used. I also want explicit consent to be sought. I also want to be able to retract my consent anytime with my data deleted. I think this is basically GDPR 🙂

The way I see the current internet is that there is no way foolproof way to tell if a company is fulfilling their privacy promises. Unless I can have all my data encrypted with my own key, there really is no true privacy.

Oh wow what a great article!

As a digital marketer, these social media and online databases are gold to me and our clients. I do worry about my privacy but my technical expert tells me that worrying over that ship has sailed as it is too late. Might as well protect yourself and focus upon the benefits of the internet knowing you.

I wish I could upvote larger than 100% as this is gold. How about that and a !BEER

Can't believe I have never run across your blog in my years here and I have some catching up to do!

Thanks for the BEER!

I checked the data Google was storing about me some years ago, and I was shocked. I forbid all data storage since then. That has disadvantages I'm trying to keep low, for example with the use of Start Page search engine. (Google based, but privacy oriented.) I also use various e-mail-services, not only google, and various browsers.

You might want to consider using DuckDuckGo for your searches and Brave for your browser 😉

I use mostly DuckDuck and Opera but sometimes also Brave and Start Page. I have 5 browsers now, some applications aren't able to run on all of them.

Great job @culgin by this post! Everyone shoud read this. Really inspiring, perfect!

Thanks for this eye opener. It's really helpful.

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 2 years ago Reveal Comment

Upvoted 👌 (Mana: 0/10 - need recharge?)

Thanks! 👍

 2 years ago Reveal Comment