Keeping Control of Your Information Online
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with sites like Facebook.
On the one hand, it's great to be able to keep in touch, see everyone's latest funny vacation photos and get up to the minute updates about what's happening in the world. Even Farmville and Mafia Wars were fun...well, for a while.
On the other, it seems to be harder and harder to stay in control. It feels like every week there's a new profile page, a new set of ads that seem to know your every move and a new set of privacy settings.
It's not just Facebook. More and more, we're losing control of our personal information online. Your internet company and smart phone are often tracking the sites you visit, building a detailed record of your interests, searches and even your location. Facebook and company are finding more and more clever ways to sell your data to the highest bidder and there's now a constant stream of stories about identity theft.
And even when bad things like that don't happen, it’s just unnerving to know that you're not in control of your information.
It shouldn't be that way. As more and more of our lives are lived online, we think that:
- A company should need your permission before collecting and using your information. You should also be asked for permission in a way ordinary consumers would understand.
- When you do give permission for your information to be collected or used, it's the company’s responsibility to make sure it stays secure.
- In the cases where you have virtually no choice but to use a service, like your internet provider, you shouldn't be required to share your personal information.
- You should have the same protections and choices when using the internet on a mobile device as a computer.
We're working to make sure that those principles become the standard practice online. But in the meantime, we want to make sure you have tools to stay in control of your information now.
What follows is our step-by-step guide for controlling your information on Facebook. For other websites and social networking sites, the Federal Trade Commission has put together a one-stop shop of advice for protecting your information and computer. You can visit it at http://www.onguardonline.gov.
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