Privacy in social media
Facebook uses you personally for advertising. Friends see what you like or where you were and the social network makes it look like you are personally behind a certain product. Maybe you don’t like the fact that you are being exploited like that.
To clean up Facebook’s privacy settings particularly quickly, you can use the assistant of the third-party app “Jumbo”. The tool is a kind of data protection scanner. You log into the app on Facebook (Jumbo indicates that you do not send any data about your social media log-ins to your own server). Then the integrated assistant confronts you with your previous privacy settings in Facebook, explains the individual points like the ones mentioned above, and sets the recommended settings at the push of a button. You can even archive and download your old pinboard entries.
Jumbo masters …
- Facebook (Messenger)
- Google (YouTube, Maps, Chrome)
- Amazon Alexa
If you use Facebook on your smartphone, you could use the alternative for more data protection SlimSocial use. This also includes a rudimentary chat function, so it also replaces the messenger. We present the app in a separate article:
Privacy while mobile surfing
With mobile surfing – be it with a mobile browser or within an app – there are two ways to improve the protection of your privacy. Browser apps themselves offer many options for more data protection. Often you see the following functions …
Ad blocker have gone through an evolution. Many modern mobile browsers advertise with an integrated ad blocker. However, this only blocks particularly annoying or even malicious advertising banners. Thomas Konrad from the Cliqz GmbH, the company behind the browser of the same name, explains to us:
The advantage of this form of ad blocking is that websites can continue to fund their content with advertising revenue. For readers, this means more real articles that are made available to them free of charge and fewer “sponsored articles”.
Phishing protection remains an important but often overlooked topic. It is not uncommon for users – sometimes specifically – to be asked in e-mails to register in an online service and to solve an urgent problem (e.g. PayPal, eBay, Amazon etc. require money). The link contained therein leads the user to a fake log-in page. Appropriately protected mobile browsers recognize such pages and warn the user that someone wants to steal their password, identity or possibly money.
Anti-tracking you can implement with the browser app, but more extensively with VPN services. But what is tracking? There are now several advertising networks on the Internet that follow you from side to side and get a comprehensive picture of your habits. Immediate free relief promises browsers like Cliqz, Aloha or Firefox Klar.
However, protection is more extensive with a separate one VPN-Service. This routes all of your internet connections through the servers of a third party. This can then block connections to certain tracker networks or feed them with incorrect information. The VPN app from is particularly easy to use Disconnect. This costs $ 50 a year, much like most of its competitors.
The highlight of Disconnect is that the VPN service provider concentrates on the large tracker networks Facebook, Google and Twitter. With a switch you can specifically exclude the three networks from your data connections. This is also useful in mobile apps, as they are often equipped with third-party trackers (mostly from the three previously mentioned) without being noticed.
You go one step further by GOAL. This peer-to-peer system routes your connection via a decentralized network of several users around the world and jumps back and forth between different nodes. Not even the individual participants in the network can understand the full path of the connection. TOR enables access to particularly anonymized websites, including news services and email clients. You get access via the appropriately prepared one Tor browser.
Private Messenger: Chat anonymously
We are somewhat powerless against the popular messenger networks WhatsApp, Telegram and Co. Here we have to trust that they handle our chats, the meta data (who chats with whom) and our mobile contacts with care. Ideally, we switch to an anonymous messenger in delicate situations.
In certain situations, the operator should also not know who you exchanged data with and when. Because jurisdictions in some countries can force operators to disclose this data. So you could also be innocently accused of helping in illegal activities. For example, keep in mind that WhatsApp allows any user to add you in groups by default.
Privacy for photos and documents
Many Android users use Google’s tempting offer to copy an unlimited number of photos and videos to the cloud storage for free. This is extremely convenient and (from a purely back-up perspective) secure, since your photos are secured even after a smartphone theft or defect. You can also access the photos from all of your devices. The same applies to documents. Many companies and schools use Google Docs and Sheets to work on the documents together.
But caution is also necessary here. Google frankly admits that it scans your photos and documents to optimize algorithms for face, object, or font recognition. If you don’t like the scanning process or the resulting monitoring algorithms, you should consider an alternative to Google Photos and Google Drive.
OnlyOffice and / or NextCloud offer similar convenience. These – now growing together – open source products can either be installed free of charge on your own servers. Or you can use one of the many hosting services that take care of the installation and maintenance effort. One of the providers would be the German cloud operator.
Private, encrypted emails
Email services are also under increasing pressure to “make money” with their operators. In particular, free services such as Google Mail (Gmail) sometimes work with obvious methods. Not only does the Gmail app often show promotional emails in your inbox (at least as display marked). In addition, Google openly admits to reading your emails by machine and passing the evaluation anonymously on to third parties. I don’t know if all of your contacts would agree.
You can find an extensive breakdown of fewer and more trustworthy email services in the blog Restore privacy. Top candidates are characterized by freedom from trackers, complete anonymity and encryption. Among other things, the author recommends …
- Tutanota (German)
- ProtonMail (Swiss)
- Mailbox.org (German)
- Posteo (German)
- Mailfence (Belgian)
Another problem with mobile anonymity is the smartphone itself. Even if you observe all data protection rules in the software, the hardware can become a problem child. The US company Purism – actually known for privacy-optimized Linux laptops – developed and optimized together with the German engineer Nicole Faerber (Interview) a privacy-optimized smartphone.
The first attempt to walk on the project is plagued by bitter insights. Because hardly any manufacturer of embedded hardware wants to expose the circuit diagrams of its chipsets or modems. Occasionally, even regulators argue that certain information should not be made public for security reasons.
However, after thirty years of Windows at the latest, we should know that “Security by Obscurity” does not work: If secrecy were effective protection, there would be no malware for the closed-source operating system.
This means that large parts of the mainstream hardware remain a black box for us. We do not know what the modem in the lower smartphone reads (thanks to unlimited access to the main memory) and with whom it shares the data. And since the majority of these components are developed in the USA or China, any suspicion is well founded.
Even if your control over your data is limited, you can make it as difficult as possible for curious third parties. Encrypts and filters data streams, cuts off trackers, blurs your traces. If you have “nothing to hide”, think about your responsibility to your contacts and friends. Because their profile is also sharpened based on the data created around them.