Settings You Need to Know About to Protect Your Privacy

Streaming devices like Smart TVs and streaming sticks put a world of entertainment, information, and communications at your fingertips. And your high-speed internet from S&T delivers the streaming content reliably and without interruption.

But as with any digital technology, your internet browsing, and viewing habits can leave a trace. From search engines like Google and browsers like Chrome to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and even streaming devices like Roku or Amazon Fire Sticks, tech can track and follow you. And they’ll use your data to make money.

Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your family’s privacy while using the internet and streaming. For example, enabling security settings and turning off certain features on apps and devices can enhance your privacy while improving your online streaming experience.

Below, we highlight some of the simplest and most effective steps you can take to secure your family’s internet privacy better.

Search Engine and Browser Privacy Settings

When you use a search engine like Google or use Chrome, the popular web browser, your searches and browsing history are saved and stored. And some of the data you unknowingly leave behind is even processed into commercialized information used to target specific ads and other content to you.

If you think that sounds a bit creepy, you’re not alone.

However, Google offers simple solutions to this issue. First, head to your Google Account and click on “Data and Privacy.” Once there, go to “Web and App Activity” and toggle it off by switching it from blue to gray and then confirming your choice on the pop-up screen. That one change exponentially improves your privacy while browsing or searching on Chrome or other Google apps and platforms.

You can also stop “ad personalization” in the same menu in your Google Account. Just scroll down to “Ad settings” and toggle that off from blue to gray and you’re all set.

Facebook and Instagram Privacy Settings

Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram to share photos and stay connected. And for many, both apps are so thoroughly integrated into their lives they can be hard to relinquish, even if you’d like to! So if quitting social media cold turkey isn’t in the cards for you, you can shore up your privacy on both Facebook and Instagram in just a couple of easy steps.

The most common way Facebook and Instagram make money from you and your data is by selling information it collects about you. To prevent that, navigate in the app to “Settings & Privacy,” then click “Settings,” then “Ads,” then “Ad Settings,” and then “Data about your activity from partners.” Once there, turn off this setting by toggling from blue to gray. That will cease sending “personalized” ads based on your data.

You can take the privacy features one step further. Turn off the “Face Recognition” feature, which analyzes people’s faces in the photos you post and view.

To turn off this rather invasive-sounding technology, go to “Settings & Privacy,” then click “Settings,” then click on “Face Recognition,” and then click “No.”

Just employing these setting adjustments alone will make navigating Facebook and Instagram more private and less unsettling.

Smart TV and Streaming Device Privacy Settings

It’s not just apps and browsers keeping tabs on your online habits. Streaming devices do, as well.

One of the most common ways Smart TVs and streaming sticks monitor and track your streaming habits is through Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). This technology “captures” images from the movies, shows, and other content you watch and the searches you input, whether entered by typing or through voice.

While tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku disclose this to you as a part of their “Privacy Policy.” When you set up a device, you are generally “opted-in” to the data collection and ACR, so you must proactively turn the setting off to “opt-out.”

Each device is a little bit different, but you should go to the device’s “Settings” and then look for “Privacy” (sometimes found after a menu tab for “Preferences” or “General”).

Then, look for specific settings like “Device Usage Data,” “Collect App-Usage Data,” or “Share Analytics” and be sure they are off.

Some devices let you turn on enhanced privacy settings, so look for terms like “Limit Ad-Tracking,” “Allow Apps to Ask to Track,” or “Opt-Out of Ad Personalization.” This will prevent the devices from tracking and sharing your data and information, giving you extra protection.

These two simple steps, available on all popular streaming sticks and devices, will improve your streaming privacy.

But don’t forget to exercise some common sense, too! For example, over-sharing of personal information, such as your birthday, location, and even common password terms like your pets’ names, make you more vulnerable. So be sure to remember your role in protecting your privacy online, as well.

And for more helpful tips on navigating the web more safely and securely, follow S&T‘s social pages!