We live in a much different world now than we did twenty years ago. Our daily lives now include a whole range of activities that we do online such as surfing the web, email and even shopping. Using social media sites to interact and share with friends and family is no doubt one of the most popular forms of online entertainment across the entire globe.
A large portion of the world’s population now has access to the internet twenty-four hours per day via mobile phone, tablet, and laptop or web capable device of some sort. As user access to constant connectivity has grown so have the number of services, capabilities and features offered by various companies. These services and features offer convenience, ease of use and expanded functionality. While most of us love all the amazing things made possible by the internet, using social media websites, online banking and all the other tasks we do on the web present several privacy risks.
Many websites such as Amazon, Facebook and almost any other website where you sign up for an account require users to agree to their terms of service. Of course, most of the time people do not even read the first sentence of the terms, let alone the entire agreement. The common assumption is the companies are huge well-known entities that are popular all around the world, so they must offer terms that are generally safe. While this may be true on the surface, the risks to your privacy are buried within the details of the small print.
Terms of service that you explicitly agree to present privacy issues, but the problems do not end there. There are also other risks that come with using social media sites and many other types of websites as well. Unfortunately, users are left on their own to discover the risks and to protect themselves. Let’s face it, calling Facebook tech support and complaining isn’t going to help you change their terms of service any time soon.
Let’s have a look at some of the common risks you should know about while surfing the web.
When you sign up for a Facebook account and agree to the terms of service they know most people don’t read the details. Within Facebook’s terms is a clause that allows the social media giant to use your photos and videos in almost any way they choose. By clicking on “agree” you give Facebook a royalty-free license to not only use any photo or video you post for themselves, they can also give permission to others to use your content.
If you are posting photos and videos to share with friends and family assuming all of it is kept relatively private, you should know that is not the case at all. Anything you post can turn into the subject of a Facebook advertisement or any number of other uses they choose. If you are thinking about calling Facebook tech support to try and change this on your account, don’t bother because it won’t help. It is a part of their fixed and required terms; if you do not agree to it then you can’t use their website.
Using Twitter has many of the same risks as using Facebook. Agreeing to Twitter’s TOS (terms of service) means they can track your IP address, what type of internet browser you are using and the type of computer system you are using.
Twitter’s data collection doesn’t end there. They also track what website you visited prior to arriving on the Twitter site, your location, cell phone carrier name, search terms you may have used and your internet cookies. Of course, they then turn around and use all of that information for advertising purposes, but that encompasses a lot of different activities. In fact, it encompasses a lot of other companies in addition to Twitter with whom they have a business relationship in one form or another. This means all the information listed above can end up in the hands of a large number of companies.
Google is perhaps the worst offender on the entire web when it comes to grabbing user data, certainly far worse than Facebook or Twitter. Their TOS covers everything mentioned above and all of your browsing activity with very broad terms allowed for how they can use the data and with whom. Of course, in order to know what is in Google’s terms of service you would first have to be able to understand them, no minor feat.
We have just scratched the surface on the issues above and there are a large number of other risks you should be aware of that we will cover in another post. However, if you use the internet and have concerns about your security and privacy, perhaps we can help. Our remote computer support service helps individuals with a wide range of computer tasks.
We can deal with very simple problems such as helping you install a printer or much more complicated problems such as helping you protect your privacy and security online. If you need affordable professional remote PC support, don’t count on Facebook tech support to come to the rescue, give us a call.