Typing while intoxicated & online privacy

Typing while intoxicated is one of many pitfalls we face in maintaining our online privacy. Here are some tips that will help you to balance your online presence with privacy.

Drop Google For DuckDuckGo

Google tracks your every online move. When you search something on Google, they track what you click along with other private information (the browser you use, your location, computer and operating system). All of this metadata is used to create a profile of you. If you’re logged into Google, they know even more about you. Sounds like that stalking Police song, Every Breath You Take, doesn’t it?

Google sends this information to advertisers, who know what ads to present you. If you ever search for a medical condition, and then find out you don’t have it, you could get ads for months reminding you of a worrying week. When this happens, clear your cookies.

In the latest trend, insurance companies are looking into buying online profiles. One day, they might be able to use your late night search habits to raise your rates. If the NSA scandal didn’t faze you, I bet this does.

Since the Snowden-NSA scandal broke, anonymous search engines have been gaining popularity. One of them is DuckDuckGo. They don’t store your information, so when the government comes around and asks for your search habits, they’ll have nothing to hand over. There are others – just search for “anonymous search engines,” check them out and bookmark your favorite.

Use the Cloud Wisely

Dropbox and Google Drive are amazing tools. I use the former for personal use and the latter for work. When I visit my family in Florida, it’s nice to be able to place a few vital documents (shopping lists and flight itineraries) in the cloud. But I wouldn’t advise storing your investment portfolio or password file there.

You’ve Got Many Secrets to Conceal

Unlike the target of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, we all have many secrets to conceal. Do you keep a password spreadsheet? Do you use the same password for Facebook as you use for banking? I hope not. For me, the only way to make sure that I really use unique passwords is to store them in an offline spreadsheet. Offline is the key word here. I burn a copy to CD or DVD every few months and keep the old archives. Consider printing a copy and filing it. There are much greater odds that someone will figure out an easy password and/or steal your password file in Dropbox than break in your home and grab that piece of paper, of all things.

Typing While Intoxicated

DWI, meet TWI – typing while intoxicated. How many times have you read a post on Facebook and said to yourself, “what is he on?” Drinking and posting public messages for the world to see (and for Google to index) do not go well together.

When you’re drinking your favorite mix and the hour is late, there may not be a “designated typist” to help you. Get away from the keyboard. That’s not easy these days. Our PlayStations, XBoxes and even Smart TV’s all connect to the internet and often come with keyboards. The bathroom may be the only safe room without a keyboard – and who knows how long that will last!

Most of us don’t need alcohol to say the wrong thing in public. I’ve said my doozies. In December, a PR executive was fired after an offensive Tweet went viral. Imagine if you’d won the lottery and your dumbest Facebook or Twitter comment went viral. How would you look? That’s not how you want to spend your 15 minutes of fame.

What are your online privacy tips and how do you strike a balance?

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About the Author
Kenny Sahr is a startup marketing executive. His first startup, founded in 1996, was featured in Time Magazine and on 60 Minutes. Kenny moved to Israel from Miami, Florida. In his spare time, he is an avid music collector and traveler.
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