Step Up Your Settings: Privacy Settings How-To’s

Who do you really want to have see your information online? Use these how-to guides to help you better control who can find out what about you.

Turning Off Location Services

If you have location services turned on (enabled) when you post to a social-networking website, other people could use that information to find you using the GPS coordinates associated with the post.

To keep your location private, turn off (disable) location services. If you’re posting from a mobile phone or tablet, you can choose which apps can use location services, or you can turn off location services for all of your apps at once. Remember that if you’re posting to a site from multiple devices, you may need to turn off location services for each device individually!

Follow these links to find out how to turn off location services for apps on your devices:

Instructions for Newer Apple iDevices:

Instructions for Newer Devices with Android:

Instructions for Other Devices and Older Devices:

Instructions for Twitter:

Instructions for Facebook:

Instructions for Instagram:

Instructions for Mapping Apps:

Turning Off Photo Tagging

Many social-media sites allow users to “tag” their photos with the IDs of other users who appear in them. Depending on the site and the type of account you have, tagging may be opt-out, i.e., the default may be to allow tagging unless you turn it off in your privacy settings.

Follow these links to find out how to limit or turn off photo tagging:

Instructions for Twitter:

Instructions for Facebook:

Instructions for Instagram:

Changing Basic Privacy Settings: By Site/App

Almost every app or social-media site has adjustable privacy settings, which are a way of saying which kind of information you want to share with who (profile, posts, likes, etc.). If you don’t personalize your privacy settings, the app or site will use their own default settings, which may or may not look like what you would want.

Not all apps/sites allow you to adjust your settings for every type of information they have about you, and some may not allow you to adjust anything. However, providers can change which types of sharing they allow you to adjust, and what the options are, so it’s a good idea to review your privacy settings regularly.

Follow these links to find step-by-step instructions for adjusting the basic privacy settings for some popular apps and sites:

For Twitter:

For Facebook:

For Instagram:

For Snapchat:

Information for more apps coming soon!

Changing Basic Privacy Settings: By Device

Your devices can communicate information about time, location, and their own identities to the various apps and site you use, as well as to your Internet service provider and the device manufacturer. In some cases, this is necessary — an app needs to know your phone’s identity to be able to deliver content to it. But in other cases, you can adjust your privacy settings to control which information is shared with who.

Follow these links to find step-by-step instructions for adjusting the basic privacy settings for some common types of phones and tablets:

For iPhones and iPads:

For Android Phones and Tablets:

For Windows Phones:

For Macintosh Computers:

Information for more devices coming soon!

Disabling Tracking Identifiers

When you use a mobile app or browse the web, apps and websites — and the advertisers they sell ad space to — keep track of your activities, even if you don’t log in or provide other personal information. Mobile apps mainly do this using a unique “advertising ID” number that is supplied by your device. Websites mainly do it by placing a small file on your computer or mobile device called a “cookie” with an ID number and activity log.

Follow these links to find out how to reduce these types of tracking:

Instructions for Setting Your Browser to Clear Cookies Regularly:

Instructions for Disabling Advertising Identifiers on Mobile Devices:

Stripping EXIF Data from Photos

When a photo or video is captured with a cell phone or digital camera, other data such as the time, date, and GPS location of the photo may also be recorded, along with information about the camera itself. Before uploading photos or videos to a website or attaching them to email, you can remove this information (called metadata), so that people who view your photos and videos don’t learn more about you than you meant them to.

Follow these links to find out how to strip this metadata from your photos:

Instructions for Specific Operating Systems:

Note that some websites, including Facebook and Twitter, strip the EXIF data from photos and videos automatically when they are uploaded. However, the websites may then add similar information to the post itself, like where you posted from. Use the how-to’s above to adjust your settings about what information websites add.

Deleting or Deactivating Accounts

If you feel that eliminating your social-media accounts altogether is the safest route for you, the links below can help you close, deactivate, or delete your accounts. And even if you’re still active on social media, deleting or deactivating old accounts you don’t use anymore is generally a good idea.

Keep in mind that your account data may still be there in backup storage, and if it was ever mirrored or quoted, those copies will not be deleted. (However, deleting the original copy may make it harder to find.) In addition, some social-media sites will not let you delete an account at all; you may only be able to close it.

Follow these links for instructions on how to delete or deactivate accounts on popular social-media sites:

Instructions for Twitter:

Instructions for Facebook:

Instructions for Instagram:

Instructions for Other Sites:

Instructions for Many Sites: