We are often bombarded with warnings about our online privacy in this digital age, but have you ever thought about the data you share online? The reality is that even by liking a particular post on social media or sharing a photo with friends, you’re giving away your right to privacy. Nothing online is truly private.
You may decide to use tools such as a residential proxy to hide your IP address, but this only protects you from being tracked and hides your IP address. The moment you post an article, leave a comment or share an image on social media, that information becomes public.
In this article, we’ll discuss how what you post online becomes public and how companies can then scrape, collect and even hack this information. We’ll also discuss measures you can take to protect yourself online and how companies use digital fingerprinting to collect your data.
Beware of What You Post Online
Any information posted online can potentially be scraped or hacked. We feel that by being given privacy options on our social media, and access control settings on collaborative documents, this information is safe and private. The reality is the opposite. If you post something on social media, even if you delete it after a few minutes, chances are others already saw your post. Someone may have even taken a screenshot or shared it with someone else before you deleted it.
Not only that, but anything you post leaves a digital trail, even if you delete it. This digital trail is often referred to as a digital fingerprint. These fingerprints are difficult to disguise, even when using residential proxies. Fingerprinting technology has also advanced so far that these minuscule pieces of data can be used to gather a large amount of information on you. Similarly to how physical fingerprints at a crime scene can be used to convict a criminal.
It’s also not only marketers, web scrapers, and hackers that look for this personal information. Anything that you post online can land in the hands of your employer, a hiring manager, or even a vital networking contact. This is why it’s more important than ever to be mindful of what you decide to share online.
How to Protect Yourself Online
Protecting yourself online is critical, but how can you stay safe without completely shutting off from the internet and social media? This may seem like an impossible task, but there are ways that you can keep your online data safe while still being able to enjoy browsing websites and interacting with friends and family on Facebook, Instagram, and others.
While you’ll never be able to stay completely private online if you interact with, share or create posts, there are ways to protect yourself and your data. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you are safe:
- Use residential proxies to hide your IP and keep your browsing private.
- Always log out of social media accounts.
- Make sure that your social media privacy settings are set so that only friends or followers can see your posts.
- Think very carefully about what you post. Don’t post it online if you aren’t comfortable sharing it in person.
- Never share personal information such as passwords, telephone numbers, addresses, and similar.
- Never share photos or posts that could endanger your wellbeing – this includes revealing photos.
- Think like a President before posting anything – don’t share photos of yourself in compromising positions, don’t post extreme views on religion, race, gender, etc.
- Don’t post if you’re emotional.
What Is Digital Fingerprinting?
Digital or device fingerprinting is a process used to identify a device or browser based on its unique configuration. Online cookies have become more untenable these days. Cookies have become unreliable as more websites have stopped using them, ad-blockers bypass them, and users can delete them at any time. As such, device fingerprinting has become a more reliable way to track users and gather information that can be used for marketing purposes.
Fingerprinting can be very useful as it can be used to control digital rights management and fight bank fraud, although it can feel like an invasion of privacy when used outside of these situations.
It is important to be aware that everything you post online is considered public. This means you should be mindful whenever interacting on social media. You can use tools such as residential proxies to give you more privacy, but these cannot completely remove your digital fingerprints. It is your responsibility to make sure that if you do post anything online, it is appropriate and doesn’t provide any of your personal details.