The 8 Worst Privacy Settings to Leave Turned On

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Sometimes I look at a privacy setting and wonder who would ever allow that? Why would someone want to provide that much personal information to total strangers or to some large company?

Third-party app makers sometimes like to test the limits to see what they can get away with, before users decide to turn off a feature because they aren’t comfortable with the amount of personal data being provided, or the audience that it's being shared with.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 8 privacy settings that make us scratch our heads and wonder why anyone would leave them turned on:

The Top 8 Worst Privacy Settings to Leave Enabled

1. Geotagging pictures  (Your Phone's Camera App)

Here’s a bright idea: Let’s tag every picture we take on our phone with the precise GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken and embed the data in the picture. What could possibly go wrong?

Lots of things could go wrong. Stalkers could find out where you live by reading the metadata from a picture you posted online for one thing. You should consider turning off this feature at the source (in your camera’s app settings). If you have pictures that already have this data in them, read How to Remove Geotags From Your Photos.

2. Facebook's Nearby Friends Location Sharing “Until I Stop” Setting

You know what I really want to do? I want to tell my friends my exact location and then I want to lock the setting so that it allows for constant updates.

Sounds like a great idea, right? Maybe not.

If you don’t find the prospect of letting your friends know where you are all the time  then you may want to make sure your phone’s Facebook app isn’t allowing this type of thing. Click on the compass icon next to someone you’ve shared your location with in the Nearby Friends section of the app and make sure the “Until I Stop” option is not checked.

3. Access to Your Phone’s Microphone

Some apps request access to your phone’s internal microphone to perform certain tasks. We find this feature to be creepy. On the iPhone there is no sub-setting to only allow access while the app is in use, so it’s hard to know when the app is actually using the microphone, which is also a concern.

4. Photo Stream Syncing on All Devices

While you might not think of photo stream syncing as a privacy issue, the first time you take a provocative selfie and it ends up syncing to your Apple TV in the living room and shows up on the screensaver while Grandma had paused a movie, you’ll realize that this feature has privacy implications.

You may want to turn this feature off if you have a lot of devices that share the same iCloud account and could potentially end up in the wrong hands. Read our article: How to Secure Your Racy Photos for some tips on avoiding the situation described above.

5. iMessage’s “Share Indefinitely” Location Sharing Setting

We find all location sharing app options to be creepy. Similar to Facebook, iMessages location sharing is even more scary because if someone got a hold of your unlocked phone they could set the “Share Indefinitely” option on the location sharing for their number and potentially be able to track you without your knowledge.

To check to see if you are sharing location information with anyone go to your Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Share My Location, then look to see if there is a list of people that you are sharing your location with.

6. Allow Public Anything on Facebook

The “Public” option on Facebook pretty much lets anyone in the world see whatever you have set to that audience. Use this option sparingly or not at all if you don't have to.  

7. iMessage “Allow Read Receipts”

If you want people to know exactly when you read and ignored their text message then, by all means, leave this setting turned on. If not, turn it off in the iMessage app's settings

8. Location History on Facebook

Facebook's Nearby Friends tracking feature requires that you turn on "always active" Facebook location history recording, which means Facebook records everywhere you go and stores this information. Yeah, we think it's ultra creepy too and recommend not turning this feature on.

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