Love Lockdown: Keep Your Online Privacy Secured

As technology extends further into our personal lives, so do the reaches of the hackers and businesses profiting from it. Is your online privacy really that private?

  • In “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy,” Violet Blue shows you how women are targeted online and how to keep yourself safe.
    Photo by Fotolia/weerapat1003
  • Let “The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy” help you cut through the confusion and start protecting your online life.
    Cover courtesy Microcosm Publishing

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy (No Starch Press, 2015) by Violet Blue is here to help girls (and guys) navigate the whirlwind of social media, online dating and smartphones that can make life a dream—or a nightmare. For every trustworthy website, there are countless bullies and scam artists who would harvest your personal information for their own purposes. But you can fight back, right now.

To find more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

But It's Just My Phone Number

You’d be surprised by how far one creep or criminal can get with your phone number. It’s hard to believe that one little thing can cause so much trouble, but keeping your private life under wraps comes down to controlling certain pieces of information as much as you possibly can. You’re about to find out exactly what information I’m talking about and how to protect all of it.

You Control What You Share

It’s really important to safeguard pieces of personally identifying information, like your phone number, online. Social media and advertising companies are continually compiling dossiers on you, trying to match information across services and devices in order to piece together the most complete profile they can. The more complete the info, the more valuable it is when they sell it to and trade it with third parties. From these third parties, your private information becomes public in people-search databases. As if this weren’t bad enough, malicious hackers look for clues to your private information in everything you do online.

The armor you build around that identifying information protects every aspect of your privacy. Of course, what you do in private or choose to share with friends is your own business. But if you want to be confident that your information remains personal, only share identifying info with people you trust.

For example, if you enjoy sex or explore aspects of your sexual identity using technology, that experience should belong to you. Only you should get to decide whether it was a good or bad thing to do. Sexuality is one of the most important ways in which we identify, establish, and maintain our boundaries. Just as importantly, you should get to decide if that experience (whether it’s sharing intimate photos, talking dirty on the phone or via voice chat, sexting, having any kind of online sex, or just disclosing something on a sexual topic) gets shared with anyone else. Personal information and experiences should be private and under your control, unless you decide otherwise. If you do decide to share that information, you should know exactly what you’re agreeing to.

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