Do You Still Just Hand Over Your Data?

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Sometimes it’s just easier to hand over your data instead of taking the ten seconds to Do the Right Thing. Logging into an app through Facebook, linking an app so it posts on Twitter, allowing a service to access your location at all times... In 2018, these are all privacy no-no’s and we all know better.

And yet, I’ll be the first to admit guilt. A new app comes out, I download it, and it’s just really easy to say, “Sure, I’ll grant you access to my Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Instagram in exchange for some dubious convenience or meme.” It’s so commonplace and I definitely don’t always do the extra step of reading an app’s privacy policy to see what sort of permissions I’ve granted this new app. And then, when I inevitably delete it from my phone, I forget to revoke access on the relevant websites. (PSA: Just deleting an app does not magically cut off its access to your data!)

Case in point: I deleted dating apps from my phone months ago. Still, a quick look into my Facebook permissions page showed me that Tinder, OKCupid, and Bumble all still had access to my info—along with those crappy memes from 2010 like “What Font Are You?” (Don’t judge college me. She was going through a thing.) Do I know what data those apps had access to in the half-year since I used them? Nope. Was it worth the convenience while I was using them? Noooope.


But this habit is especially bad in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. While that debacle is a many-headed hydra with far-reaching impact, it boils down to the fact that up to 87 million users had their data exposed by some 270,000 users who took a dumb Facebook quiz. Most of us don’t review app permissions regularly, and at the same time, continue to partake in quizzes, memes, and apps that ask us to link up our Facebook and Google accounts. It’s not like we’re all ignorant that companies do shady things with our data, so why do people, including me, make it easier by essentially giving access away for who knows what purpose?

I’m pretty sure most of us are guilty of a half-hearted mix of being tech savvy and tech dumb. Maybe you’re savvy enough to enable two-factor authentication on all your emails, but you just grant apps location permission willy-nilly even though they’re tracking your every move. Maybe you haven’t cleaned out your Twitter and Facebook app permissions in a few years, but you use a password manager like a pro. But it’s worth reconsidering: Do you still just hand over your data? And if so, why?