Trending: Sharing Personal Information is a Double-Edged Sword

Sharing is a double-edge sword.

This month, Facebook had a significant privacy breach. With estimates varying about the total number of folks affected, (between 29 and 50 million), more than three million users are in the European Union. That’s important because the EU just launched powerful regulation holding companies accountable for breaches.

The new regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR is the acronym, requires companies to notify individuals of a breach within 72 hours. If they failed to do this, Facebook could face a fine of over one billion dollars. While this seems high, what you might not realize is many companies simply budget for these breaches – rather than work to prevent them – but it’s cheaper (and easier) to pay a fine than to stop the problem.

Of course, all this won’t matter much to you.

What should matter is how your information is being protected. Facebook and Google have a reputation for pushing the limits on privacy. Not to make you insane, but it’s also what Netflix, Amazon, and other large vendors are working to do as well. The more they can understand your “persona” the better they can market to you. And that makes a lot of people happy because they get served content that matches their interest. But it can also be used for evil.

As we learned in the 2016 elections, this data can also be used to target you with information they think you’ll believe. The aim: to sow discord among Americans, further polarizing us with ads, posts, and positions on things that weren’t true. What’s most important for you to know is how they targeted you was based on things you’ve posted, words you’ve use, quizzes you’ve completed and things you’ve liked. It was so bad then, one army vet is making social media disinformation his mission.

Apple continues to focus on privacy as a competitive differentiator. While they too collect information about you, their approach is to let you see everything they are collecting.

We can hardly function in our world without interacting with these entities.

Clearly, we can’t stop using these tools. I mean you could, but Netflix and Chill, is way too important, especially with winter coming. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself a bit. Most important: don’t over share. I know the quizzes are fun, but every time you tell them a bit more about yourself, the more you will be targeted by bad actors.

You can also get a virtual private network (VPN) for you and your family. It essentially allows you to surf, stream and shop anonymously so the bad guys don’t see what you’re doing. That’s what we do. We have Vince the Bull and our personal VPN, InvinciBull. You can try it free and for just the cost of a cup of coffee per month, you can protect all the devices you own. Anything you choose to share is up to you giving you a better sense of control over what’s yours.