Protecting Your Privacy on Popular Apps

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Today, a large amount of personal information is stored on mobile apps. For example, certain cash-transaction, shopping, and social media apps have access to private data, and you may be unaware of the different ways they handle and use that data. Securing the three apps listed below is essential to protecting personal data privacy. 

Venmo®

Venmo is one of the most popular money transfer apps in the country, with tens of millions of people using the service in the past year. However, since the app combines banking with certain social media features, it poses some privacy risks that should not be overlooked. The following security measures will help keep your Venmo use private.  

Don’t use Venmo on public wi-fi networks. 

If you use the app on public wi-fi, hackers can easily access your account. Instead, limit your Venmo use to private wi-fi networks and turn on a VPN if you must use the app publicly.  

Make your transactions private. 

Venmo makes all of your transactions public by default, so adjusting this setting is an essential step to securing your app activity. Open the Venmo app and go to Settings > Privacy > Private (under Default Privacy Setting) to make future payments private. You can also make past transactions private: go to Settings > Privacy > Past Transactions > Change All to Private. 

Amazon® 

Amazon has become increasingly ubiquitous in recent years. Amazon develops products from Alexa to Ring Doorbells, and ships about 1.6 million orders per day. Therefore, it is essential to know and adjust your privacy settings for this powerful app.  

Limit your public profile 

Amazon creates a profile for each user automatically set to Public and shares certain account information on this profile (such as your location, name, and product reviews). To control what is visible on your profile, open the Amazon app and go to Account > Profile > Edit your profile; from there, you can deselect the categories you don’t want to show. 

Clear Alexa voice recordings 

If you have an Alexa device, your voice commands are automatically saved to improve the device’s AI technology. To stop saving these recordings, open the app and go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data > Choose How Long to Save Voice Recordings, then press Don’t Save Recordings. 

Facebook® 

Facebook has been the subject of various data privacy controversies; its history of tracking makes it especially important to understand its security settings. There are two essential privacy features you can use to limit Facebook’s ability to track your use of other websites and applications. 

Stop using Facebook Login. 

When you log in to other sites using your Facebook account, these companies can see your account information, including your name, email address, and Facebook comments. Facebook can access information about your use of that secondary site too. To separate Facebook from other accounts, go online to the Facebook home page, then to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Apps and Websites > See More. Click the box next to the apps listed, then click Remove. 

Keep your Off-Facebook History cleared. 

Facebook collects information on your online activity from other sites and uses that data to send you targeted ads. You can, however, adjust your settings to prevent them from collecting this information. First, on a computer, go to the Facebook homepage. Next, open Settings & Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts > View or clear your Off-Facebook Activity > Manage Future Activity, then turn off the Future Activity switch. 

You can take a few general steps to limit overreaching data collection from any app, including reading its App Store reviews, updating apps frequently, deleting those you don’t use, and using a VPN as much as possible. Additionally, ensure that you are informed about the apps you install: do research before new downloads and read about the privacy policies of your most-used apps. The best way to protect your data privacy is to become an aware and knowledgeable app user. 

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