How to Protect Your Data: Lessons from Cambridge Analytica

In the last couple weeks, I’ve written a few blogs and recorded some Facebook Live videos to breakdown and share my takeaways on the complicated Cambridge Analytica situation. As a result, I knew that the next natural topic would be to talk about how to protect your data.

Facebook settings

Privacy Settings

Do you know how to access your Privacy Settings? On desktop you can find it from the blue arrow in the upper right hand corner. Hit that drop down arrow and choose Settings. Continue reading

Talking Angela and Critical Thinking

“Mrs. Rego! What about ‘Talking Angela’?”

I got this question over and over. In fact, I was asked this question so many times in one day that I did the research right in the middle of my last presentation at a recent middle school career day.

As a visitor on this campus, it felt like an epidemic. I started to become worried when the stories grew fantastical. Kids being watched. Phones being hacked. People being kidnapped. Continue reading

How to Clear Your Facebook Search History

Ummm, you might want to clear your Facebook search tracks.Facebook Gear Activity Log

By now you know that all your online activity is tracked. I wandered into my Activity Log today and was surprised to see how many years of searches were there.

If you don’t know where it is, click on the gear in the upper right hand corner when you are logged into Facebook. Choose Activity Log and choose More to see all your activity by category. WAY at the bottom is Search. Take a look at what your stalker self has been up to. Continue reading

Instagram Changes the Rules

InstagramDid you hear that Instagram changed it’s privacy policy and terms of use? They can now sell your images (they might not), put you in an advertisement on Instagram or Facebook (their mother company) or elsewhere, and they can serve you advertising without full disclosure. This all goes into effect Jan. 16, 2013.

I feel like they pulled the rug out from underneath all of their users. There’s no way to opt out of this new wrinkle other than deleting your account. If you do so before Jan. 16, your images are safe from the new terms. While they say they don’t own user uploaded content, users “hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service.”

It used to be that advertisers would have to ask explicit permission to use content, that is no longer the case. Your face or images could end up on a billboard or on a Facebook ad. You have no control over that and will receive no compensation or credit.

Did I mention that minors are not exempt?!? By signing up to use the service, they are acknowledging that a parent has agreed to let them use Instagram and that their content may be used for advertising purposes. Because you know that teens ask their parents before downloading and using an app. Secondly, I will bet that neither teens nor parents will really understand the impact of this change.

I want to know why they can change their rules mid stream? I will hear back from lawyer friend later today but I know she’s not going to have anything to say that will make me happy.

My view is that everything you say, do, and post is public information. But I really don’t like the games they are playing with people that don’t understand their legal rights and when they are being ruthlessly taken away. I’ve never been a privacy advocate but this one takes the cake. The fact that minors are being taken advantage of is the part that really gets me worked up.

If you want to be exempt from this, delete your account. If you keep it, know that pictures of you or your children are fair game.


So shortly after I wrote this blog, Instagram backpedaled.

“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

When I spoke to a lawyer about it, I expressed that what I think is a major concern for users is that while it is a public platform, no one wants to feel like a product. Offering your content for free is one thing but if Instagram were to try to make a profit off of their user’s images, it would upset many of them. This is what I think Instragram feels the need to clear up.

How to Remove Your Name from Online Listing Services

Recently several people have asked me about Spokeo, an aggregate website that lists personal information already available on the web, yet I hadn’t seen it for myself until the last report I worked up. When I encountered it while doing a reputation management report for a client (online brand and personal name search, findings, and  includes how to build up great brand content or eliminate that which is incorrect or undesirable), I dropped what I was doing, applied this to myself to learn how it worked, and how to teach you to remove your name and information.

Navigate to and enter your name. You may find that you have several listings. Continue reading

Google is Killing Their Best Product

Google is destroying their productGoogle has managed to kill their best product with a variety of changes they’ve made within the last few weeks. They introduced Google Search + Your World, a tool that when you use their search engine, you have the option of seeing what your friends have shared on the subject.  Then they began pushing Google+ posts into their search results at the sacrifice of actually relevant search results. Watch this video by Focus on the User that explains how this compromises the tool and demonstrates a Firefox extension called Don’t Be Evil (developed by Facebook and Twitter engineers) that allows you to override what Google is doing. Then they rewrote all of their privacy policies into one and upped their tracking of users across multiple websites creating a what they call an improvement of service with no way to opt out.

They were already under Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation for their monopolistic business practices. When they released Google Search + Your World in mid January 2012, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the FTC and Google+ was added to the investigation.

Even though they only have 65% of market share on search according to Bloomberg, the phrase “violation of anti-trust legislation” is being used continuously. They aren’t technically violating anti trust laws with 65% but that’s not where they will lose the war. They are going to lose on user loyalty. The number two search engine, Bing by Microsoft, only has 14% market share but when users fully comprehend how much their privacy is being completely thrown away, I believe they will run to the next best competitor in droves. Maybe their hold will only change a few percentage points but the damage has been done. Privacy is rarely my largest concern but the magnitude of your personal shared information being rebroadcast in such a public way, has even me ready to reassign my default browser to the company that shall not be named. That’s how I felt when I talked about the company that brought us Windows. They had a shade of Voldemort for me but now I feel the evil has shifted.

I’ve had several upset people ask how jump ship so here are step by step instructions on how to delete your Google+ profile.

What is your biggest concern about Google’s changes? Or do you even care?

[Image via Stock.xchng]

How to Delete Your Google+ Profile

Delete Google+Google has really messed up their number one product, Google Search. Many people are upset over their loss of privacy and their ability to have some control over their content. I’ve had several people ask me during my social media and technology training sessions how they can delete their Google+ profiles. If this is something you’d like to do, here are instructions on how to just delete your Google+ profile and not your whole Google account.

  1. Log into Google
  2. Click on your name in the upper right hand corner
  3. Select Account Settings
  4. In the Account Overview tab, look for the section Services
  5. Select Delete Profile and Remove Associated Google+ features
  6. On the next page, select the Required checkbox at the bottom then click Remove Selected Services (This I am not able to test to confirm because I don’t want to click on it until I’m ready. I am assuming there is some kind of confirmation on the next page. Use common sense and read the instructions.)

Let me know if you try this (in the comments) if they change how it’s done and I’ll update.

LinkedIn Privacy Settings You Should Know About

I spend much of my time either researching or training. I love to dive into settings for my clients. I like to quickly take care of the most nefarious and get their settings optimized right away. This is where I find many people run out of steam and give up because it’s simply too much and generally confusing. I found a few privacy settings I think you should know about on LinkedIn.

  • Log in to LinkedIn
  • Hover over your name in the upper right hand corner and Settings shows up on the drop down list, select
  • At bottom left, look for Groups, Associations, and Applications, select it
  • Under Privacy Controls, there is “Turn on/off data sharing with 3rd party applications”. Select or deselect at will.
  • Again under Privacy Controls, there is “Manage settings for LinkedIn plugins on third party sites”
  • This one is important: on the Account tab, there is “Manage Social Advertising”. This is where you select whether or not LinkedIn may use your name and photo in social advertising.

I recommend you read each of these carefully but I would bet money that you don’t know these settings are even there. Make sure you know where your data is going. I actually chose to keep the first two I mentioned but I opted out of social advertising. Be educated. Knowledge is power.

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