Privacy and personal connection – it is possible to do both

Over the last few months, privacy and social media have been taking up prime real estate in the media headlines.

This week marks Privacy Awareness Week in Australia, and it’s an excellent conversation starter to discuss how we can manage our privacy while still connecting on social media.

DIGI is a not-for-profit industry association representing the digital industry in Australia. DIGI members include Facebook, Google, Oath and Twitter, which collectively provide various digital services to Australians ranging from internet search engines to digital communications platforms.

Those online platforms that you no doubt use every single day to chat to your friends and share your stories.

Those online platforms that businesses use every day to reach customers in all corners of the world.

All of our members believe in safe online experiences that enhance personal connection. They have invested heavily in tools and resources to ensure the online environment is safe and respectful.

DIGI members believe you should always know what data is collected from you, how it’s used, and that you should have meaningful control over both.

Most people actively use around eight to nine apps on their phone and have up to 20 apps downloaded. It can seem overwhelming to try to read all of the privacy policies, but it’s important to understand the basics of how your settings are set up and what options there are to customise your account to match your preferred way of connecting.

So what are the basics?

Take the time today to visit the settings in your regular online platforms, and select how you want your data used and how you want to engage.

For example, with Facebook, you can directly choose who from your friends sees your photos and posts. This is available in one simple privacy shortcut that makes it easy to access privacy, security and ad controls. Other basic privacy provisions include choosing whether your friends list is viewable to other friends or not. You can also manage which photos you’re tagged in and also remove tags.

Google is probably a huge part of your online experience – we use it to find places, research holidays, read reviews, and so much more. It has fundamentally boosted productivity and helped create a whole new way of working.

And again, you have complete control over your privacy settings and user experience. You can visit the Google My Account website and use the Privacy Checkup to select the privacy choices that are right for you. Only you can see this information.

My Activity enables you to see your search history, your browsing history in Chrome, and more. Only you can see this information and you can delete any of it at any time.

With Google’s Ads Settings page, you can add or edit information to affect what kinds of ads Google shows you. You can also block specific advertisers from showing you ads on Gmail or Google Search, or opt out of seeing customised ads altogether.

Twitter is where many people see breaking news and find out what’s happening in the world right now. From the beginning, Twitter has empowered people to share information with the world. To put you in control of your information, Twitter made a series of deliberate design decisions that help protect your privacy and security. Your Privacy and Safety settings give you access to two-factor authentication for greater account security, as well as transparent access to your Twitter information to date. As a public and open platform, Twitter has also created a Twitter data dashboard — a new tool to help you monitor and manage your account, all found under your Account Settings.

Oath, a global media and technology company including such brands as Yahoo and AOL, also provides users with controls to manage their experience. In the Oath Privacy Controls centre, users can review or edit their account information, manage their marketing preferences, opt out of targeted ads, and manage their search history and location data.

DIGI members work hard to ensure their platforms are safe, trustworthy, and used responsibly. Without question the internet is primarily used as a force for good.

It’s important to remember – and also remind your loved ones and family – that you have control over your data and your privacy online. Visit the settings in your online platform and ensure you are comfortable and secure with how you are connecting.

Nicole Buskiewicz is Managing Director of DIGI.