In today’s digital world, it is more important than ever to protect privacy online. Through this exercise of searching for what others might find out about me through a Google or DuckDuckGo search, picking through my social media privacy settings, checking my mobile privacy, and evaluating my password strength, I was surprised to learn that while my habits aren’t the greatest in terms of password strength and privacy settings, not a lot can be found out about me online.
For this assignment, I first conducted a search of my first and last name on Google while in InPrivate mode on Microsoft Edge. Because I have gone by both Catherine and Cat Crist, I searched for both names to see what I would find. I was surprised to find only 6 or 7 images that are of me. They all came from past public accounts such as Pinterest and Twitter as well as mine and my husband’s wedding website and a post that my company made about me on LinkedIn. I usually keep my social media accounts on private, and if the option is given, I will opt out of being shown on search engine results, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised about my lack of presence. I think that if a potential employer or coworker were to search for me, they would find that I don’t have much of an online presence.
For the second part of this assignment, I reviewed my privacy settings on TikTok and Instagram since those are the only social media platforms I use. My account on both platforms is set to private, so only users I allow can see my posts and stories. I prefer to have a lowkey presence on these platforms, so I left my settings as is.
Next, I read “How to Improve Your Mobile Privacy” and compared some of the settings on my phone. I found that a) I have more apps installed than I realized and b) that those apps have access to more data on my phone than I realized. I changed the settings to where less apps had access to personal information such as photos, texts, my camera, my call log, etc. I also chose to disable personalized ads and ad tracking. While I actually enjoy getting personalized ads, I understand those come at the cost of privacy. Not to mention that I could stand to spend less money!
Finally, I visited five website that I regularly log into using a username and password and recorded my login information. I scored very strong when I checked my passwords using the password strength check; however, I do use one password for most logins. For accounts containing private information, I plan on changing my password to at the least, a variant of my current password. I will also begin recording these passwords in my planner, since it is something that doesn’t leave my side.
I learned quite a lot from this exercise and ended up making some changes based on this new information. I do believe that both individuals and private companies have a duty to protect people’s privacy. I learned that I am not doing all I personally can to protect my security and privacy online through this exercise; however, I do believe that apps and websites should make their privacy policies more clear to the everyday person. I think that many apps and websites purposefully use obscure language so that the everyday person doesn’t bother to read the terms and conditions they are agreeing to. They should make it easier for us to understand exactly what we are signing up for and how our information will be used.