being tracked

You are being tracked by your phone carrier, Twitter, others

July 7, 2013

big brother You are being tracked by your phone carrier, Twitter, others

You are being tracked

AT&T is currently considering selling your browsing history, location, and more to their advertisers, according to a recent change to their privacy policy, attracting criticism from analysts across the board. The company says they will be able to fully “anonymize” large amounts of data, but many remain in disbelief, so for those that wish to opt out of AT&T, Twitter, Sprint, Verizon or even T-Mobile tracking and selling data, here’s how:

How to opt out of being tracked by AT&T

If you are an AT&T subscriber, opt out by logging in and checking the boxes for every phone number you would like to “opt out.” That is all you need to do, however, you might want to review AT&T’s privacy “choices and controls” to see what you can manage, and to learn exactly what they are doing with your data.

AT&T is not alone

If you are a Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile user and think you are safe, think again. Your carrier is already doing something very similar.

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For Verizon users, you can opt out of their program by calling, 1-800-333-9956 and review all terms outlined in their privacy policy.

If you subscribe to Sprint, you can review the Sprint privacy policy and if anything is unsuitable or you simply don’t want to be tracked, you can opt out on the Sprint site.

If you use T-Mobile, their ” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”privacy policy is publicly available, but you should know that your information is sent to a third-party company, Network Advertising Initiative. This seems to limit your available options for opting out (since this other company is in control of that information). The closest thing on the web site is a cookie-based opt out.

It’s NOT just your phone carrier

If reselling of your tracked information has left you reeling, there is more to the story, starting with Twitter who has announced they will begin to display “promoted content from brands and businesses [you have] shown interest in…you will not see more ads, but better ones,” according to a recent statement.

What this means for you is that they are tracking you to make more money. However, they are offering two options to opt out. The first is to enable the “Do Not Track” at the browser level and Twitter will respect this setting (see instructions for your browser below):

  • For Firefox: Go to “tools,” then “options.” Select “privacy” in the tabs and check the box that says, “tell sites I do not want to be tracked.” And click “OK.”
  • Internet Explorer: Click “tools,” then “internet options.” Select “privacy,” then check the box under “location” that says, “never allow websites to request your physical location.” Then click “Apply” and “OK.”
  • Chrome: (Yes, there is a setting for this now) You will go to menu, then “settings.” Click “show advanced settings” and then “privacy.”
  • Safari: Tap menu, then “preferences.” Navigate to the “advanced” tab on the right (it looks like a gear). Click the box next to “show develop menu in menu bar.” Close out your preferences and you should now see a new menu labeled, “develop.” Click this. Then click, “send do not track http header.” And it should show a check mark when you have finished.

The second, which works without changing anything in your browser, can be found in your Twitter account settings. If you scroll down once you are in the settings section, you will see two new checkboxes: “Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits” and “Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners.” You will simply need to uncheck those boxes and save your settings. And as easy as that, Twitter will no long be tracking you online.

Do you care if you are tracked?

With all of this tracking taking place, what do you think? Businesses have to make money, but do they need to track our every move? I think Twitter has the right idea by openly giving users the option of opting-out. I am sure some people do not mind being tracked, but some users do. This way, Twitter still makes money from users who do not mind “tailored” advertising, but users who do not want their details shared, can remove their information.

Jennifer Walpole is a staff writer for AGBeat and holds a Masters degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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