‎Default technical settings that you should turn off immediately‎

‎Default technical settings that you should turn off immediately‎

‎These controls, which are buried within the products of Apple, Google, Meta, and others, force us to share too much data.‎

‎The saying refers to the default settings that tech companies embed deeply into the devices, apps, and websites we use. These settings usually force us to share data about our activities and location. We can usually opt out of this data collection, but companies make it difficult to note down menus and buttons, perhaps in the hope that we won’t change them immediately.‎

‎Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft generally want us to skip some of the default settings, reportedly to train their algorithms and catch bugs, which then make their products easier for us to use. But unnecessary data sharing is not always in our best interest.‎

‎Note that in 2018 several whistleblowers admitted that they had listened to Apple’s Siri recordings and Amazon’s Alexa activations that inadvertently recorded couples’ sex. The recent change of Ro vs. Ro. Wade also highlighted the many ways women can be tracked through their personal technology when looking for options to terminate a pregnancy.‎

‎So with every tech product we use, it’s important to take the time to look at the many menus, buttons, and switches to reduce the data we share. Here’s a smooth guide to many default settings that I and other tech writers always change.‎

‎With iPhones, users can open the Settings app and enter the privacy menu to change the way they share data about their app usage and location. (Apple technically asks people to choose some of these settings when activating a new iPhone, but these steps can easily be ignored.) These suggestions will disable data sharing.)‎

‎Select Tracking and toggle off allow apps to request tracking. It asks all apps not to share data with third parties for marketing purposes.‎

‎Select Apple Advertising and turn off personal ads so Apple can’t use information about you to offer targeted ads on its App Store, Apple News, and Stock.‎

‎Choose Analytics and Improvement and share iPhone Analytics to prevent the iPhone from sending device data to Apple to improve your products.‎

‎Select Location Services, tap System Services, and turn off iPhone Analytics and Routing end traffic to prevent the device from sharing geodata with Apple to improve Apple Maps.‎

‎Google’s products, including Android phones and web services such as Google Search, YouTube and Google Maps, are linked to Google accounts, and the control panel to change data management is on ‎‎myactivity.google.com‎‎ website.‎

‎For all three categories — web and app activity, location history, and YouTube history — automatically delete activity older than three months. That way, instead of making a permanent record of each search, Google clears entries older than 90 days. In the near future, it can still offer helpful recommendations on recent searches.‎

‎A bonus tip for Android phones comes from Ryan Hager, editor of the tech blog “Android Police”: Newer versions of Android offer people the ability to share approximate location rather than their exact location with apps. For many apps, such as weather software, there should be an approximate data sharing method, and accurate geodata should only be shared with software that needs to work properly, such as maps apps.‎

‎Meta’s most important settings can be accessed through the Privacy Checkup tool within the Settings menu. Here are some important changes to prevent espionage by employers and marketers:‎

‎For “Who can see what you share,” select “Only Me” for people who have access to your friends list and pages, and select “Friends” for those who can see your birthday.‎

‎For “How people can find you on Facebook” select “Only Me” for people who can see you via email or phone number.‎

‎For “Your advertising preferences on Facebook,” turn off the switch to relationship status, employer, job title, and education. As such, marketers cannot offer targeted ads on this information.‎

‎Amazon’s website and devices‎

‎Amazon offers some control over sharing information through its website and products like Alexa and color cameras. Here are two settings I highly recommend turning off:‎

‎Amazon launched Amazon Sidewalk last year, a program that automatically shares an internet connection to amazon’s new products with other devices nearby. Critics say the footpath could open the door for bad actors to access people’s data.‎

‎To disable it for the Echo speaker, open the Amazon Alexa app and tap Moor at the bottom right of the screen. Within Settings, tap Account Settings, select Amazon Footpath, and toggle The Sidewalk off position.‎

‎For the color camera, in the Color app, tap the three-line icon at the top left and then tap Control Center. Tap Amazon Sidewalk, and slide the button to the off position.‎

‎On Amazon’s website, some shopping lists — such as items stored in the wish list — are shared with the public by default, which can reveal information. Go to your lists page and set each purchase list to private.‎

‎Windows PC comes with a host of data sharing settings by default to help Microsoft, advertisers, and websites learn more about us. These settings can be found by toggle off switches by opening the Settings menu and clicking Privacy and Security and then General.‎

‎Yet the worst default setting on Windows may have nothing to do with privacy. Whenever wirecutter editor Cumberstreams experiences a new laptop, their first step is to open the Sound menu and select No Sounds to mute the many annoying chimes that run when something goes wrong with Windows.‎

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