Privacy Policy is Pretty Scary

The last time I fully read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of any app or device was when I was about 13 years old. I guess one would call me paranoid for reading so much into them, but I don’t think I would call myself that now after reading and listening into how much those Terms of Services and Privacy Policies actually include.

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.

Junior studying psychology, and dabbling in visual arts.