Thoughts on (practical) privacy
Privacy is difficult in this day and age. On the one hand we want to limit what we provide these data hungry companies with and on the other hand, we don’t want to alienate ourselves from our friends.
Personally, Facebook is the company that I’m most reluctant to share data with. I simply don’t trust them. If you read Salim Virani’s post Get your loved ones off Facebook, you will understand why. The same argument could be made about Google and Apple of course, but both of them appears to take privacy at least a tad more serious than Facebook.
The problem is that most of your friends will likely be on Facebook (and communicate using Facebook Messaging and WhatsApp). Assuming you don’t want to cut the cord with Facebook entirely, what can you do to limit the data you share with them?
Here are some measures I’ve taken to improve my privacy.
If you’re concerned about sharing data with Google, then use Firefox. Regardless of your browser, you should really get these two plugins:
- Ghostery: Regain control over your browser and block beacons etc.
- EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere: Only HTTPS wherever possibly.
For Facebook, I’ve moved to using the Tor Browser exclusively. I then use Facebook’s Onion address to access the service. I realize the irony of using Facebook over Tor, but it will at least prevent GeoIP lookups and sandbox Facebook to one browser.
Make sure to remove all Facebook applications (both Messenger and the main app). These are major violators of your privacy. You may also want to remove WhatsApp. If you need to access Facebook on the go, use the web version.
You may also want to disable the location service when you don’t need it.
For most people, instant messaging is part of your everyday routine. There are however good and bad ones. EFF have put together a Secure Messaging Scorecard that ranks various messaging apps.
Update: Richard Stallman just published a post titled Reasons not to use Facebook which outlines a large number of reasons why you should avoid Facebook.