It seems that every day there’s a new story published about user privacy on social and online platforms but it can all be very confusing and — scary. So, what’s the truth and what can you do to protect identity, photos and personal information?
Fact: If you use Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos or YouTube (Google owned) your personal information is being collected and stored on external servers.
The paragraph below was taken directly from Google’s website.
“We also collect the content you create, upload, or receive from others when using our services. This includes things like email you write and receive, photos and videos you save, docs and spreadsheets you create, and comments you make on YouTube videos. When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”
If you use your gmail account to log into any other websites — Google also collects that user information and use it to build your data profile and better understand you, your spending habits, and the websites you visit.
“This activity might come from your use of Google services, like from syncing your account with Chrome or your visits to sites and apps that partner with Google. Many websites and apps partner with Google to improve their content and services. For example, a website might use our advertising services (like AdSense) or analytics tools (like Google Analytics), or it might embed other content (such as videos from YouTube). These services may share information about your activity with Google and, depending on your account settings and the products in use (for instance, when a partner uses Google Analytics in conjunction with our advertising services), this data may be associated with your personal information.” (Source)
The good(-ish) news is that you can update your privacy settings to make your account a bit more secure. You can learn more about how to change your privacy settings on Google (and all Google affiliates) here.
Fact: Facebook (and Instagram) also collect your personal data.
Facebook has been involved in its fair share of privacy scandals. Just last year the New York Times announced that Facebook gave technology companies (including Netflix and Spotify) exclusive access to user’s private data. They also had to publicly apologize for another bug that may have given additional third-party apps access to to 6.8 million users’ photos. Then, they were hacked and exposed 30 million more users private information including photos, email addresses, phone numbers and location history.
“We collect the content, communications and other information you provide when you use our Products, including when you sign up for an account, create or share content, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide (like metadata), such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. It can also include what you see through features we provide, such as our camera.”
With that being said, our recommendation is to never post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want anyone in the world seeing.
Instagram’s solution? If you don’t like it, delete your Instagram account.
“We do not claim ownership of your content, but you grant us a license to use it. Nothing is changing about your rights in your content. We do not claim ownership of your content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Service, you hereby grant to us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). You can end this license anytime by deleting your content or account.”
FACT: At Monument, maintaining and ensuring your privacy has always been one of our top priorities. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons our founders started this company
“Your privacy and security are important to us and we take them seriously. When you use Monument products to store your photos or videos, we do not collect, access, or store those photos or videos on your Monument device by any means. We strive to use best practices and take necessary measures to keep your content stored privately on your Monument device and not accessible by any other third party service or product without your consent.”