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Streaming devices like Smart TVs and streaming sticks put a world of entertainment, information, and communications at your fingertips. High-speed fiber internet from GRM Networks delivers the streaming content reliably and without interruption.

With any digital technology, your internet browsing and viewing habits can leave a trace. Search engines such as Google, browsers such as Chrome, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and even streaming devices like Roku or Amazon Fire Sticks, track and follow you. They will also use your data to make money.

Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your family’s privacy while using the internet and streaming. For example, enabling security settings and turning off certain features on apps and devices can enhance your privacy while improving your online streaming experience.

Below are some simple and effective steps to better secure your family’s internet privacy.

Search Engine and Browser Privacy Settings

When you use a search engine like Google or the popular web browser Chrome, your searches and browsing history are saved and stored. Some of the data you unknowingly leave behind is even processed into commercialized information used to target you with specific ads and other content.

Google offers simple solutions to this issue. First, head to your Google Account and click on “Data and Privacy.” Once there, go to “Web and App Activity” and toggle it off by switching it from blue to gray and then confirming your choice on the pop-up screen. Doing this improves your privacy while browsing or searching on Chrome or other Google apps and platforms.

You can also stop “ad personalization” in the same menu in your Google Account. Just scroll down to “Ad settings” and toggle that off from blue to gray.

Facebook and Instagram Privacy Settings

Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram to share photos and stay connected. You can tighten your privacy on both Facebook and Instagram in just a couple of easy steps.

The most common way Facebook and Instagram make money from you and your data is by selling information it collects about you. To prevent that, navigate in the app to “Settings & Privacy,” then click “Settings,” then “Ads,” then “Ad Settings,” and then “Data About Your Activity From Partners.” Once there, turn off this setting by toggling from blue to gray. That will cease sending “personalized” ads based on your data.

You can take the privacy features one step further. Turn off the “Face Recognition” feature, which analyzes people’s faces in the photos you post and view. Go to “Settings & Privacy,” then click “Settings,” then click on “Face Recognition,” and then click “No.”

Employing these setting adjustments will make navigating Facebook and Instagram more private.

Smart TV and Streaming Device Privacy Settings

It’s not just apps and browsers keeping tabs on your online habits; streaming devices do as well.

One of the most common ways Smart TVs and streaming sticks monitor and track your streaming habits is through Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). This technology “captures” images from the movies, shows, and other content you watch and the searches you input, whether entered by typing or through voice.

Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku disclose this to you as a part of their “Privacy Policy.” When you set up a device, you are generally “opted-in” to the data collection and ACR, so you must proactively turn the setting off to “opt-out.”

Each device is a little bit different, but you should go to the device’s “Settings” and then look for “Privacy” (sometimes found after a menu tab for “Preferences” or “General”).

Then, look for specific settings like “Device Usage Data,” “Collect App-Usage Data,” or “Share Analytics” and be sure they are off.

Some devices let you turn on enhanced privacy settings, so look for terms like “Limit Ad-Tracking,” “Allow Apps to Ask to Track,” or “Opt-Out of Ad Personalization.” This will prevent the devices from tracking and sharing your data and information, giving you extra protection.

These simple steps, available on all popular streaming sticks and devices, will improve your streaming privacy.

Remember your role in protecting your online privacy. For example, over-sharing of personal information, such as your birthday, location, and even common password terms like your pets’ names, make you more vulnerable. Be sure to exercise common sense.