I was definitely a cautious 13 year old, and I wish I was still just as cautious now. Overtime, I did start skipping the terms and policies, because I figured they either had too much jargon I still wouldn’t be able to understand, or that their terms couldn’t possibly endanger me.
I decided to follow some of the steps on FemTechNet.org and going through it reminded me of the saying that goes something like, “Overcome fear with wisdom.” As I read through some of the homework for this week I was reminded of how much I feared this realm of all-things-digital, but when I have safety measures such as the ones suggested on this site, it reminds me that I should just remain vigilant.
I was also very interested in trying out Zaba and Pipl, and while their services were above my current budget, I still appreciated them. I noticed how seemingly intimidating Zaba is though, and that slightly concerned me. There was fear and a lot of warnings written into their process and it made me almost want to stay oblivious to it all. I think that might be a down-side to services if they choose to market themselves like this. However, Spokeo seemed like a much more affordable service, so I hope to try that sometime soon when I have more time to search through their generated report.
Some tips that I had not previously considered were using two-factor authentication, a password manager, deleting old accounts, and using a pseudonym more often.
I first decided to follow along with the two-factor authentication step, and had to list all sites and applications I knew I used on a regular basis. I previously never liked setting up two-factors because I thought it was just extra work, but I am glad to be reminded that the extra work goes a long mile for my own privacy. I also decided to look into password managers, which is something I should’ve done long ago because I often forget my passwords anyway.
I also am working on a list of old accounts I should consider deleting. For example, my old Facebook account and maybe temporarily disable my Instagram account. The JustDelete.Me page is extremely interesting for this step. I knew some sites gave me a headache to go through and delete my accounts for, but knowing that there is a resource that lists out their steps and level of difficulty makes this a much easier step for me now. It feels more encouraging to follow through these things my 13 year old self would have ambitiously done by now.
I had already been following a couple of the other steps, but these were considerably less than the ones I decided to start following. In the end, I feel really grateful of the people putting in the work into these kinds of resources. Like I said earlier, I feel like I am overcoming my fear of my digital footprint by learning more about how to create these safeguards for myself. I definitely want to keep learning more tips like these and live my online life more easily. Especially since so much of our online life is so legally unregulated.