My Results: How Is Data Shared?
Communicate About Privacy
Request privacy from companies and services that have data about your offline activities, such as healthcare, banking, insurance, and utility providers. Specifically, opt out of sharing your information with third parties. Use these guides to help you navigate opt-out procedures:
- Video and Guides from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services: Health Information Privacy: Guidance Materials for Consumers
- Stop Data Mining Me: Opt-Out List
- How to opt out of Facebook data sharing
Learn About Online Privacy
If you can't bring yourself to read through the official Privacy Policies, use a cheat sheet like one of these:
- Ratings Based on Whether Apps Collect Only the Information You Expect: Privacy Grade: Grading the Privacy of Smartphone Apps
- Ratings of How Sites Protect Your Information from Government Requests: Who Has Your Back (2018 Edition)
Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Review your privacy settings on your social media and other accounts and on your apps and communication devices, to make sure you're sharing what you want to share. Use these guides to help you identify and change the settings most important to you:
- Directory of Resources for Managing Your Settings: Privacy Settings How-To's
- Worksheet: Managing Your Footprint: A Privacy Settings Checklist (pdf)
You may want to use different settings for different accounts, on different social networks, or for different apps, depending on how you plan to use them.
- Some settings we recommend reviewing include:
- Location services and frequent places (on apps, sites, and devices);
- Automatically limiting the audience for your old posts;
- Sharing your information with third parties/other companies ("marketing affiliates", etc.).
- Keep reviewing your settings on a regular basis, and when you get a new account, app, or device, start by reviewing its privacy settings.
- Watch this short video to see how location services on your phone can impact you.
Manage Your Profiles
If an app or site asks for your personal information, weigh the benefits before giving it.
- Ask yourself: Do they really need this information to provide the service? What permissions are they asking for and do they really need access to that information?
- Don't fill in non-required fields.
- You may be able to give false information in the required fields if it's not necessary to the service you're getting. However, you should check the provider's terms of service first to make sure they do not require that your personal information be correct. Don't give false information to banks, government agencies, and other highly regulated services, as it may be illegal.
- Watch these short videos to see how much information we give away without thinking.
Limit Data Collection and Tracking
Limit tracking by reviewing your web browser's or your phone's privacy settings for how long it saves cookies from the sites you visit. In browsers, privacy settings can generally be accessed via the "Preferences" or "Options" menus. (Note that these settings change back to the default when you install an update to the browser.
- To reduce the chances you can be tracked from session to session, set your web browsers on all your devices to clear any cookies when you close the browser.
- Guide for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera: How to Clear Your Cache on Any Browser
- To find instructions for other browsers/devices (or newer versions), do a search on 'automatically clear cookies' and the name of the browser or device.
Resources to Learn More About the Topic
Data Mining and the Limits of De-Identification
- Comic Explaining Many Ways Data Mining Is Used: Terms of Service
- Here’s why you may never be truly anonymous in a big data world
Data Sharing and Data Brokers
- Explanations, Advice, and Resources About the Value of Your Information: Information About You on the Internet Will Be Used by Somebody in Their Interest
- Video About the Information You Share on a Daily Basis: A Day in Your Life
- In-Depth Explanation of Data Aggregation, Inference, and Consumer Profiling: Ethical Implications of Data Aggregation
Third-Party Ad Serving