These are tools we ALL need… Tracking is out of control!
Last year Darren Odden, a 43-year-old software engineer in Santa Cruz, Calif., was shocked to find that pictures of his 16-month-old son were showing up on public Google GOOG -1.56% searches.
Panicked, he considered pulling all his photographs from social-media sites. Then he downloaded AVG PrivacyFix, a free program from the antivirus software company AVG Technologies.
The program’s dashboard gives users a snapshot of what information they’re actually sharing when they use social networks and services, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. It pings users with a small red exclamation point if their privacy settings are weak and sends an alert when a website users have visited in the past 50 days makes relevant changes to its privacy policies.
The reason pictures of his son were leaking into Google queries, Mr. Odden learned on PrivacyFix, was that he had inadvertently made some Facebook settings public.
“Sometimes you want to share pictures of your infant with just your family and a few friends and not with the rest of the world,” he says. “It shouldn’t be so difficult to do that.”
Now that he has control over his data, he says he posts more frequently on social networks. “It empowers me to share more—with the right people,” he says. “I know that when I share something with friends or family, I’m not getting uber-personal with a business client.”
Other products let people keep track of their personal data in other ways. Privowny, a free privacy toolbar for Firefox and Chrome, can show users which companies have their credit card, phone number and email, and are sharing data about you.
With software such as Evidon’s Ghostery and Mozilla’s Lightbeam, both free—users generally can see which cookies are on their browser, delete them one by one and block future ones from being placed.
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