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Learning Center Privacy Basics Resources

Managing Your Online Presence

  • Talk about your digital footprint and what it is.
  • Why you should be aware of what is online about you
  • Steps you can take to manage your online presence
    • Google yourself
    • Remove your profiles on people search engines
    • Make sure your social media data isn’t searchable on search engines like Google
    • Etc.
      Image credit: Huffington Post

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Learning Center Privacy Basics Resources

Who and what are data brokers?

The term “data brokers” describes companies that collect and sell personal data about individuals to other companies for a variety of purposes. Reports suggest many data brokers have thousands of pieces of information on most Americans [1], including demographic information like your full name, address, age, gender, income, education, and occupation, as well as other sources of information about your health, likes and dislikes, and more. 

Data brokers combine many sources of data together to create profiles for each person. Sources of data include social media, credit cards, browsing history, and government records. Depending on the amount and quality of data in each record, these profiles can be worth a lot of money to advertisers and others.

There are three main types of data brokers [2]: people search sites like Spokeo, marketing brokers like Datalogix, and risk-mitigation brokers like ID Analytics. MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT TYPES





[1] The Data Brokers: Selling your personal information: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-data-brokers-selling-your-personal-information/

[2] What Are ‘Data Brokers,’ and Why Are They Scooping Up Information About You?: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjpx3w/what-are-data-brokers-and-how-to-stop-my-private-data-collection

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Learning Center Privacy Basics Resources

Why Privacy Matters for You

Privacy has become a buzzword in recent years as news headlines regularly cover data breaches, social media scandals, facial recognition programs, and more. But how do these headlines affect your day-to-day life?

Teen using computer
Image credit: Flickr user VIA Agency

You share data every day, through the apps you use on your phone, the websites you visit, and the credit cards you use, as well as cameras and other tools that capture your movement and location. A lot of the time, data is collected and shared in the background, with no way for you to know it’s happening.

This data is often used by companies to create targeted advertising, but we’re increasingly seeing examples of data being used to make important decisions. For example, Target used customer data to create an algorithm that predicts whether a woman is pregnant, as well as her due date [1]. Amazon recently patented a technology that would let its Alexa personal assistant device act like a doctor and diagnose you based on verbal cues captured by the device [2]. Researchers have suggested that social media posts can predict a range of health conditions, from diabetes to alcoholism and mental health disorders [3].

While some of these advances may help with our health and wellness, there is a darker side to this data collection and analysis. What if your social media posts were used to make hiring and firing decisions? What if your HR department gave you a Fitbit, then used the data to increase your premiums? These scenarios are not movie plotlines, but are already happening.

Whether you use social media or online banking or any of the various digital tools out there, you should be able to make informed decisions about what data you share and what happens to that data once you share it.


[1] The Incredible Story Of How Target Exposed A Teen Girl’s Pregnancy: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-incredible-story-of-how-target-exposed-a-teen-girls-pregnancy-2012-2

[2] Amazon patents new Alexa feature that knows when you’re ill and offers you medicine: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/10/09/amazon-patents-new-alexa-feature-knows-offers-medicine/

[3] Facebook posts could help doctors spot alcoholism, diabetes or depression, study says: https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-activity-might-help-predict-mental-and-physical-health-study-says/