In 2016, AVG’s PrivacyFix was discontinued and users of this browser extension had to start looking for options to manage their privacy settings on Google and Facebook. Although those who were already relying on PrivacyFix may still be able to continue using the extension, there will be no updates, fixes or maintenance available. The extension was practical and it had its own advantages, but the truth is that you don’t need PrivacyFix in order to keep your privacy protected. There are other ways in which you can secure your accounts and apps. Here we will go to the methods that you can use to improve your security on different applications.
How to manage your privacy on Facebook
The privacy and security settings in this popular social media network are detailed and there are multiple options available. However, they are not locate din the same place so you need to know where to find them. If you are using a desktop browser, open Facebook and click the padlock icon that appears at the top right corner of the screen. There are three main options available in the drop-down menu, as well as an additional option called “Privacy checkup”, although this may not appear in all cases.
You need to click “Who can see my stuff?” and under “Who can see my future posts?”, you will need to make changes to enhance your privacy. You can select “Friends” or “Only me”, which will ensure that nobody else can see what you post on Facebook. Then go to “Who can contact me?” to select your preferred options regarding who can send you friend requests. You can opt for “Friends of friends” to ensure that only those who are already connected to your friends can reach out to you.
In the last section, “How do I stop someone from bothering me?”, enter the names of the Facebook users who you want to block. Once you select them, they won’t be able to contact you anymore. At the end of the menu, you can select “see more settings”, which will direct you to a page where you can ensure that people can’t search for you using your email address or phone.
Click on “Security”, the option is located on the left side bar and it has a shield icon. Here, you will be able to manage login approvals, app passwords and more. The first option that you need to modify is Login Approvals. This is similar to two-step authentication and when you use it, a code is sent to your phone whenever you log in to your account from a new device. This option adds an additional layer of security and in order to use it, you need to add your phone number.
Next is App Passwords, which allows you to set a unique password for that apps that support this feature (including Skype and Spotify), when you log in to them using your Facebook account. It is advisable to have different passwords for each app and service that you use. Make sure that all the passwords are strong and that they have at least 8 characters including letters, numbers and symbols.
The “Your Browsers and Apps” setting is handy when you get a new phone or use someone else’s device to log in to your account. This feature is a log of devices that don’t need identity confirmations or to send notification when you are logged in. Make sure that you remove any devices that you are not currently using and those that you don’t recognize.
The “Where You’re Logged In” works in a similar way, although it is related to active logins. Here you also need to make sure that you remove any options that you don’t recognize. Then go to the “Timeline and tagging” tab on the left sidebar of the page and change all the settings that you can to “Friends”. It is also possible to check any photos or statuses that you are tagged in before the tag is shown in public.
Now go to the Followers tab. Facebook followers can see your profile and posts, although they are not your friends. If you have a business and need to use Facebook to promote services, or if you have a blog and want to reach a larger audience, you may want to allow other Facebook users to follow you. However, if you want to keep your profile and posts only accessible to those who are on your Friends list, make sure that you disable the Followers option.
Last, but no least, go to the Apps section. It is important to keep in mind that apps collect your personal data and use it to deliver targeted ads, offers and recommendations. Facebook may be free for users, but it makes money through advertisement, which is why you may not find the App section easily when you want to adjust your privacy settings there.
Whenever you grant permission to an account on a third-party website or app with Facebook (for instance, if you log into the app using Facebook), your data may be accessed by those apps. It is important to remove apps that you don’t use anymore and to set limits on the permissions granted to the apps that you are still using. You should also consider blocking your friends’ apps from collecting your data.
How to manage your privacy on Google
In order to improve your privacy while using Gmail, Google + or any other Google service, log into your Google account on a desktop browser and go to myaccouny.google.com. Then select “Sign-in and security”. There, you will be able to set up two step authentication, recovery phone, a recovery email and a secret question. Under “recent security events”, you will see a list of security updates, including password changes. Check the list that appears under “Recently used devices” and make sure that you can recognize all of the devices used to get access to your account. If there are any unknown devices, or that you haven’t used before, remove them. You can also decide how Google should contact you under the “Security alert settings” option.
Then go to “Connected apps and websites”, you can see a full list of all the places where you have logged in with your Google account, as well as their related permissions. Again, here it is important that you remove any option that you don’t recognize of that you no longer use. You can click on the approved options to see a detailed list of permissions. There you can click “edit list” to remove as many permissions as you can, without affecting the performance of the app. Just keep in mind that some apps won’t allow you to edit the permissions.
At the bottom of the page, you will be able to disable apps that use sign-in technology that is not as secure. If you have an app that requires this, you can leave it on, otherwise, it is better to toggle it off. In the left sidebar, you can go to the Personal Info and Privacy section. In the first option “Your personal info”, you will be able to add a recovery email, your screen name, phone number and date of birth. Only the details in “About Me” are visible by default.
It is advisable to disable Location Sharing. When you click on Search Settings, you will be able to opt out of personalized service such as search history and private results. Keep in mind that Google will still be able to collect the information needed in order to use those service. Unless you stop using Google, they will always have access to that data. Now, if you go to Activity Controls, you will be able to disable everything to enjoy the best level of privacy. It is possible to delete past account activity by clicking Manage Activity. You can mark all the boxes and press Delete to get rid of searches, locations, YouTube videos and more.
In the next section, select “Manage ad settings”. Here you will be able to toggle off ads based on your interests. While Google will still be able to collect the data needed to target you with ads, you won’t see them anymore. This option only modifies what you can see on Google’s web pages. You can stop interest-based ads on other websites by scrolling down and clicking on “Control signed out ads”. There you can opt out from these ads. Last but not least, go to Account Overview, click the link for the Google dashboard to see a list of all the Google services linked to your account. You can disconnect any option that you don’t recognize or that you don’t use anymore.
Although PrivacyFix is no longer available, you can get the same functionality by changing the privacy and security settings manually. You can also enjoy features like anti-tracking with other Firefox and Chrome extensions. There are many options that will allow you to see what websites are tracking you and to prevent them from doing this. One of the best alternatives is Disconnect, which displays relevant details about the websites you visit.