Block Social Media With the PlusPrivacy Chrome Extension
Most people connected to the network use the services of at least one, if not most of the big tech companies. And while they usually make it easy to identify what data you share with them and other third-party services, sometimes you need a big red warning flag like PlusPrivacy .
This open source service, financially backed by the European Commission, is a bit like Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to data privacy, but it’s a valuable tool that can help you block your online accounts with a few clicks. It’s also great for letting you know if you’re giving third-party apps and services too much leeway with your information.
Let PlusPrivacy (securely) borrow the keys to your digital kingdom
After installing the PlusPrivacy Chrome extension and creating an account with the service, you can sign in to check your privacy settings on the four main social networks: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The site’s user interface is terrible – there’s nowhere to go – and there is no way to see what settings you are currently using. Don’t let this stop you. Any changes you make will take effect immediately on the sites themselves, as if you had clicked a radio button on the Google Settings page.
Plus, PlusPrivacy’s One-Click Privacy option, which you can access by clicking on Social Media on the left sidebar of the website, is great for your friends and family who really don’t know anything about data privacy. With a few clicks, PlusPrivacy will adjust the various settings on these four social networks to be considered the safest for your privacy – and you can always go back and tweak from there if you or your friends need a little more leeway.
The real power of PlusPrivacy
In fact, what I found most useful about PlusPrivacy was not the settings menu – I’d rather navigate the privacy settings in major online services directly to make sure I’m not missing out on anything important.
PlusPrivacy’s Extensions and Apps section opens up a lot more options. This is where PlusPrivacy does a great job of quickly informing you about how much information you provide to other apps and services.
For example, take a look at how Facebook presents the various apps that you’ve shared your data with.
Beautiful icons. The small mention of the publishing rights you’ve granted to the app is hardly the biggest problem. And it’s all. To discover the data that the app can actually retrieve from your account, you have to click on each icon individually and scroll through the checkboxes. Feh.
You see the same apps in the PlusPrivacy interface. However, each app comes with a list of all the permissions you’ve given, which are also color-coded.
Green, for example, means that it probably doesn’t matter that much that you let another service see your public profile. If you’ve given the app your birthday and the ability to view your current address, it’s red. Sucks.
Thanks to PlusPrivacy, I was able to learn that connecting my Samsung Smart TV to Facebook basically ensures that he knows everything about me and everything I do at every moment of my life. Oops.
Don’t Sell Your Life PlusPrivacy
As I mentioned earlier, PlusPrivacy has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it is a useful tool for blocking social media accounts and checking data access rights. On the other hand, the service ultimately wants to let you give up some of your privacy – we assume by allowing other services to access additional information about you – for some random gifts or offers.
“If you explicitly choose to do so, PlusPrivacy will help you exchange some of your data for rewards and benefits offered by participating service providers.”
We respect the fact that PlusPrivacy does not require the submission of credentials for social services that it is willing to set up on your behalf – hence the browser extension . And the service’s developers seem to have a genuine interest in helping you stay safe online. Resist the urge to sell out if this feature ever appears in PlusPrivacy. Keep your data private; keep it safe.