People joke about “big brother” watching you, but today it is really true. Have you ever wondered why when you look at an item on Amazon, let’s say a pair of winter boots, you then see an ad for those exact same pair of boots showing up in your Facebook feed? It’s because there are programs running in the background, capturing all of your data. Facebook uses a program called Atlas that tracks every click to every website, even if you aren’t on Facebook. That information is then funneled back to Facebook and used to target ads on your Facebook page.  

Besides Facebook, there are whole businesses that center on data brokering. Most people in the United States have, on average, 1,600 pieces of data about them that is bought and sold. Privacy Rights Clearing House has detailed information on how data brokers collect your data. Your data has now become a commodity. Many of us find that creepy. So, what can you do?  

There is an organization called the Digital Alliance Advertising Association that has a page where you can opt out of some targeted advertising programs. Facebook has also released a new option to limit the ads that target you through your behavioral actions such as “liking” a page. Facebook will still collect this data, however; your information won’t be deleted off of Facebook. See how to change your privacy settings in Facebook here

Finally, to keep up on how your data is being used, set up a Google alert using “Facebook privacy,” “Google privacy,” and “data privacy” as keyword terms. Google will then send you articles as soon as they are published and you can easily keep up-to-date with any changes being made without having to search for it yourself.  

Beyond Indigo never sells data collected to help with marketing your hospital. Make sure the marketing company you are using keeps your information secure. 

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