The Default Privacy Settings You Should Change: And How To Do It
By Ntiva Editorial Team on Jul 10, 2018

The Default Privacy Settings You Should Change: And How To Do It

It's important to protect your business data (we're all about that!) but don't forget about your personal data.

When was the last time you took a look at your privacy settings on Facebook, Google, Amazon or other popular apps?

Let me take a guess – it’s been awhile, if ever.

You may have noticed over the past few weeks that your email inbox is being flooded with updated data policies from a ton of different software companies.

This is in response to changing privacy laws, including the new GDPR which is ultimately affecting the way personal data is handled everywhere, not just in Europe.

I suspect you haven’t read a single one of those policy updates, but I can’t say I blame you.

They’re super long and complex and most people are too busy or overwhelmed to figure out what they should actually do.

And that’s exactly what the tech giants have been counting on.

Here are just 3 examples of what some of those default settings allow:

  • Google has been saving a map of everywhere you go
  • Amazon keeps recordings of all your conversations with Alexa
  • Facebook exposes your friends list and all the pages you follow to, well, everyone

You might be surprised what else the default settings of some of the largest tech companies are enabling – read on to learn more.

We’re sharing these step-by-step instructions for some of the key changes you should consider making to 5 of the most popular apps – Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple. (source)

It’s a long read, so we suggest you scroll through and choose the ones that affect you the most.


  1. C:\Users\dowdenh\Desktop\fb snap.pngAnyone, including the bad guys, can see all of your friends and the pages you follow. Here’s how to change it:
    1. On your phone’s Facebook app, tap the button with the three lines (bottom right) and scroll to Settings & Privacy – tap Settings and then Privacy Settings. Then switch Who Can See Your Friends List from Public to Friends.
  2. When people tag you in a photo or a post, it automatically shows up on your timeline without your permission. If you want to prevent this from happening, do this:
    1. Go to Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Timeline and Tagging – switch ON the option Review posts you’re tagging in before the post appears on your timeline.
  3. By default, Facebook scans all your photos and videos to create digital face IDs – unless you tell them not to.
    1. Go to Settings and Privacy, then Settings, then Face Recognition and switch to No under Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos.
  4. You can also change those creepy ads that follow you everywhere based on very personal data.
    1. Go to Settings and Privacy, tap Settings, then Ad Preferences. Tap open the section called Your Information. There, switch OFF ads based on your relationship status, employer, job title and education.


  1. Google is keeping track of everything you’ve ever searched for and every site you’ve visited, including YouTube videos. Want to turn that off? (Note that you will lose your search history, which can be good or bad – up to you.)
    1. Use this link to go to Google’s activity controls to turn off Web and App activity.
    2. You can scroll down further to turn off YouTube Search History and YouTube Watch History.
  2. Want to stop Google from tracking everywhere you go? (Note that Google’s recommendations based on your past travels won’t be as good – so again, up to you.)
    1. At the same link for Google’s activity controls turn off Location History.
  3. Google helps marketers target you on Google-owned sites including YouTube and Gmail. If you want to turn this off, use this link for Ads Settings to turn off Ads Personalization.


  1. Do you use Alexa or Echo? Because Amazon keeps a recording of everything you’ve ever said to it.
    1. You can delete individual recordings by going to the Alexa app, tapping Settings, then History.
    2. If you log into your Amazon account on the Web, you can delete a bunch at once under the Account and Lists settings – use this link to find Manage your content and devices.
      C:\Users\dowdenh\Desktop\AMAZONE 2.png
    3. Find your Echo or Alexa device in the Devices list, then click manage voice recordings. (Note that you can’t prevent Alexa from saving future recordings – that features doesn’t exist.)
  2. Want to control who can use your Alexa to order products on Amazon? Because anyone with access to your speaker can do it.
    1. In the Alexa app on your phone, under Settings, scroll to Voice Purchasing and turn it off, or at least put a voice code in place to stop your kids from ordering whatever they want.
  3. Amazon also keeps a log of every Amazon product you have ever looked at, not just the ones you buy.
    1. You can stop this by clicking Browsing History on Amazons’ home page and clicking View and Edit, then Manage History and turning it Off.


  1. Do you use Windows 10? It’s got a super handy feature called Cortana, a voice-controlled virtual assistant comparable to Apple’s Siri. What you may not know is that it lets Microsoft collect your location, contacts, voice, speech patterns, search queries, calendar and messages.
    1. When you first set up your computer, you can decline Cortana if you don’t plan on using it. Again, up to you if you want to take advantage of the functionality, or consider this an intrusion of privacy.
    2. Turning it off after the fact is more complicated, because different PCs put the settings in different places. On most, you can open Cortana, click on its settings, then click on Permissions & History, and individually turn everything off.
    3. You should also turn off what’s listed under Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.
  2. Windows also helps advertisers track your PC using an anonymous ID.
    1. Go to settings, then Privacy, then General and turn off Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app usage.


  1. Apple is actually the best known of the giants for respecting privacy, but it does share an anonymous ID with advertisers so they can target you.
    1. To stop it, go to Settings – Privacy – Advertising (you have to scroll way down to the bottom) and switch on Limit Ad Tracking.

Interested in reading about the best way to protect your business data?

Click here to learn the 5 key methods to protect your business from cyber-attacks, based on recommendations from the Center for Internet Security. Easy to read, short article but it should help you get on the right track!

Call to action to Contact Us at Ntiva, today!