Is Facebook Listening to You (and How to Protect Your Privacy)?
A lot of people are realizing that some of the products we use every day are spying on us. What? Yes, it’s true. Think of your smartphone. You might even be reading this on a smartphone. It’s astonishing what it knows. It knows where you work, where you live, and even locations that you often visit. The apps that you use, too, are tracking you…
Facebook Knows More Than You Think
If you use Facebook, you are giving away access to your contacts, your photos, and some say, yes, even your voice through your microphone. All pages you click are monitored and tracked, and even if you are talking about something totally random, like a trip to Australia, you can bet that you will start seeing ads for Australian tourism. The nice thing is that you can turn these all off.
Your Computer Is Also Spying on You
Facebook is not the only company in the spy game. Your own laptop could be spying on you, too. If you look at Mark Zuckerberg’s computer, which photos of are available all over the internet, you might see something interesting… there is a band-aid over the laptop’s camera lens. Could someone be watching you? Absolutely. Hackers are able to hack into your webcam and could be watching everything that goes on.
There Is More…Your Smart TV Is Spying, Too
Your smart television also has a microphone, and some of them even have a camera. This is so true that Samsung even has warned its customers that they probably shouldn’t be discussing any personal information in front of their televisions. Independent consumer groups are also warning people that any internet-connected device that has a microphone or camera can be hacked and used to spy on you.
Your Car Is Also Keeping Tabs
It is also surprising to know that your car might have a lot of information on you, too. Some cars, for instance, collect information about where you are traveling. It also, of course, can hear you if you have a voice recognition system. You give these companies the right to collect this information when you sign on the dotted line during the car buying process. Crazy, right?
Home Appliances Are Watching
Smart appliances in your home are probably watching you, too. For instance, you might have energy monitors in your home. These might be collecting information about how much and how often you shower or how often you flush your toilet. Smart refrigerators are also becoming popular, and they might know what type of food you are eating or even when you are getting low on milk. Of course, any type of smart home assistant, like Alexa or Google Home, is also constantly listening and tracking.
Fitbits and Smart Watches Are Tracking More Than Steps
If you like to exercise, you probably have a Fitbit, Garmin, or smartwatch that is tracking your steps and daily exercise. However, they can use that data and make a great guess at your gender, your height, your weight, and of course, even the way you walk. This information is becoming quite valuable to companies, and you can bet they are buying it.
Toys Are Checking in on Your Kids
Even the toys your kids are playing with are watching them. Any toy that has any type of internet connectivity could be spying. This includes toys like the i-Que robot and a doll called “My Friend Cayla.” Children can talk to these toys, and they are being recorded. These toys have become so controversial, in fact, that the “My Friend Cayla” doll was recently banned in Germany due to concerns for privacy.
What Should You Do?
Unfortunately, in many situations, there is nothing we can do about these devices spying on us. However, there are some things that you can do to potentially protect yourself.
- Understand the abilities of your devices. If they have a microphone, see if you can turn it off when not in use. If they have a camera, cover it up if you don’t want it watching.
- Turn off any and all location services if you don’t use them.
- Don’t open any weird looking emails or click on links that you don’t recognize.
- Don’t give out any personal information unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- If you don’t want to give an app access to your information or phone, don’t download it.
- Seek out the settings menus and look for “security” or “privacy and determine your option.
- Do a Google search on the devices or sites you use in regards to Privacy and see what else there might be to updating any software, turning settings on and off, or disabling anything.