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Default Privacy Settings You Should Change

Default Privacy Settings You Should Change

Tuesday, 3 July, 2018 - 09:45
FILE - A computer keyboard is seen in this picture illustration taken in Bordeaux, France, Aug. 22, 2016. Reuters
Washington - Geoffrey Fowler
It’s not just Google and Facebook that are spying on you.

Your TV, your cellphone provider and even your LinkedIn account have side hustles in your data. But, in many cases, you can opt out — if you know where to look.

I dug into a bunch of popular products and services you might not think of as data vacuums or security risks and found their default privacy settings often aren’t very private. So I collected here some common settings you can change to stop giving away so much.

TVs
Your TV is watching you. Often, default settings (or screens you probably clicked “agree” to during setup) allow smart TVs, streaming boxes and cable services to track significant amounts of personal information. They know what you're watching and what apps you use.

Recent smart TVs from Samsung, the best-selling brand, track how you use your TV to target ads that Samsung inserts on menu screens.

During setup, the TV encourages you to agree to a bunch of terms of service and conditions that include permission for “Interest-based advertisements.” You can say no then, but if you didn’t realize what was going on — or now you’re just not sure — you’ll have to dig into your TV’s settings to stop the tracking.

With your remote, go to Settings, then Support, then Terms & Policy, then Interest Based Advertisements and choose to Disable interactive services. (On older Samsung TVs, you might find this under the Smart Hub menu.)
You'll find similar settings on smart TVs made by LG, Sony and Vizio.

What you give up: More-relevant ads.

LinkedIn
Here’s my job evaluation for LinkedIn: office busybody. Based on the assumption that you want to broadcast your professional life, the social network's defaults expose a lot.

LinkedIn has about 60 data, privacy and advertising settings you can control. To get to them on your phone’s LinkedIn app, tap your picture in the upper left corner, then the gear icon in the upper right corner. On the Web use this link, or go from your home screen to Me, then Settings.

Your profile is visible to the public and searchable on Google. Data shared by default could include your first and last name, your number of connections, your posts on LinkedIn and details of your current and past work experience.

Scaling back this information is most easily done on the Web. Go to Settings and then Privacy, then click on Change next to Edit your public profile. There you can turn off your public profile entirely and choose which details you’re comfortable sharing.

What you give up: There will be less info about you out there for ex-colleagues and would-be employers to find — as well as aggressive salespeople, crooks and stalkers.

Every time you make an edit on your profile, LinkedIn broadcasts the change to your connections.

Turn off the oversharing by going to Settings, then Privacy, then click to change Sharing profile edits, and toggle it to No.

What you give up: Connections might miss an important update like a promotion — but you could always just turn this back on temporarily for a change you do want to broadcast.

Twitter
Unlike other social networks, most people assume what they do on Twitter is public. So maybe you're not surprised to know that it's in the business of selling your attention to advertisers, just as Facebook and LinkedIn are.

By default, Twitter will try to target ads to you based not only on what you do on Twitter but also your activity outside the social network, including information it buys from data brokers.

Turn that off on the Web in the mobile app by tapping on your profile picture, then Settings and privacy, then Privacy and safety, then scroll down to find and tap Personalization and data, then toggle off everything.

What you give up: The ads you see on Twitter will be less targeted, and some other aspects of your Twitter experience, such as recommendations for follows and news events, may also be less personalized to you.
Props to Twitter: Its defaults for permission to track your precise location and collect your address book contacts are both set to off.

Yahoo
Yahoo, now part of a company called Oath and owned by Verizon, is still used by millions of people for email, to follow news and explore the Web. And like its rival Google, Yahoo is making money by tracking you and selling your attention to advertisers. The good news is Yahoo keeps most of its settings in one Privacy Dashboard: yahoo.mydashboard.oath.com

Phone plans from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint
Nobody knows more about where you go and what you do than your cellphone provider. And even though you’re already paying them for service, some want to make money off your data, too. Shouldn’t they be the ones paying us for our data?

What you need to do is disable Relevant Advertising and Enhanced Relevant Advertising.

WiFi routers
Here’s a concern that’s as much about security as it is privacy: The default administrator password for your home WiFi router probably is … “password.” That’s a problem because anybody within range could log in and change your settings — or, worse, hack into your devices.

Many home routers come with generic passwords that they intend for you to change, even if most people don’t. This isn’t the password you use to get on the WiFi — it’s the control panel that runs your router. The most common is username: admin, password: password.

One common way to access your router’s control panel is to join your home network, then type into a Web browser bar 192.168.1.1 If that doesn’t work, try 10.0.0.1 or routerlogin.net If none of those works, try Googling your router’s brand name and router login. Then log in — try starting with username: admin, password: password. If that doesn’t work, you might have changed your password at some point, so congratulations! Or it is possible your router has an unusual default password, so Google for your brand’s default admin password. Once you’re in, find your way to settings and change your password to something more unique.

While you’re there, update your router’s software (called firmware), too, to keep you safer from hackers.

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