In our previous post, we discussed privacy concerns regarding the new Twitter alternative from Mark Zuckerberg, how much data the Threads app collects (hint: it’s a lot), how the social network operates (it’s a little unusual), whether it’s worth creating a profile for those who already have an Instagram account, and whether you should rush to create one if you don’t have one already (no need to rush, actually).

In this post, I’ll be talking about what you can set up (and where) to make Threads more private and secure.

Where to find the privacy and security settings in the Threads app

Let’s start with the privacy and security settings that you can find within the application itself. Actually, that should be applications in the plural. Since the Threads social network is an extension of Instagram, they share some of the same settings. But that’s not all. In total, Threads settings can be found in three different places:

  • Some of them can be found within the Threads app itself.
  • A more comprehensive list of settings is available in the Instagram app (however, they aren’t regular Instagram settings, and can only be accessed from Threads).
  • Finally, some settings are located in the Meta Accounts Center.

Confused yet? That’s normal — there are lots of things about Threads that are pretty confusing.

Threads settings in the Threads app, Instagram app, and Meta Account Center

Threads settings exist in three places: in the Threads app, the Instagram app, and the Meta Account Center. So convenient!

Now let’s explore the useful settings you can find in these three sections.

How to restrict other users from interacting with you in Threads

Let’s start with the different levels of privacy protection against other Threads users. Just like Instagram, Threads offers several settings options that allow you to restrict other users’ visibility and access to your posts and comments, as well as hide their content from you (say, in case you find their content uninteresting, or they begin to bother you for some reason).

All the options discussed below can be found directly in the Threads app. To access them, go to your profile by tapping the icon with a little person in the lower right corner, then click on the button with two dashes in the upper right corner. This takes you to the Threads settings.

How to get to the Threads app settings

How to get to the Threads app settings

Muted users

The app allows you to mute users. With this setting, you won’t see posts from this profile in your feed, nor will you see their responses to your posts. Meanwhile, the owner of the profile won’t know that you’ve muted them.

By the way, this muted user doesn’t have to be your friend (that is, a follower or someone you follow) — you can mute anyone. To mute someone, go to their profile, tap the three-dots icon in the upper right corner, and select Mute.

How to mute a user in Threads

How to mute a user in Threads

Keep in mind that your lists of muted profiles in Threads and Instagram are not linked to each other.

To find your list of muted users in Threads, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Muted. From there, you can also unmute someone (muting can only be done on that user’s profile).

How to unmute a user in Threads

How to unmute a user in Threads

Restricted accounts

You can also restrict users. In this case, you’ll no longer receive notifications when the restricted user likes your posts, replies to them, forwards or links to them. The profile owner won’t know you’ve restricted them. Again, you can restrict a user regardless of whether they’re your friend or not.

The list of restricted accounts is shared between Threads and Instagram — if you restrict someone in one app, they’ll automatically be restricted in the other.

How to restrict users in Threads

How to restrict users in Threads

To restrict a user, go to their profile, find the icon with three dots in the upper right corner, and then click on Restrict.

To view the list of restricted users, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Other privacy settings -> Restricted accounts. On this tab, you can remove users from the list or add new ones using the search function.

How to remove or add a user to the restricted list in Threads

How to remove or add a user to the restricted list in Threads

Blocked accounts

Now let’s move on to more drastic measures. In Threads, you can block users. After blocking, they won’t be able to find your content or profile on the social network. Just like with Twitter, Threads won’t notify the user about the block. And, as with the previous options, you can block anyone — not just your friends. The list of blocked users is shared between Threads and Instagram.

How to block a user in Threads

How to block a user in Threads

To block someone, go to their profile, click on the three dots in the upper right corner and select Block.

The list of blocked profiles can be found in Settings -> Privacy -> Blocked profiles. Here, you can also unblock a user or add someone to the blocked list by clicking on the “+” in the upper right corner.

How to remove or add a user to the blocked list in Threads

How to remove or add a user to the blocked list in Threads

Private profile and access only for followers

Finally, if you’re completely fed up with bots and trolls, you can make your profile private. After doing so, only those who are following you will be able to see your posts, and you can carefully filter the list of your friends to ensure your privacy.

This level of privacy might not be quite in the spirit of microblogging platforms, but it will certainly give you a break from interacting with annoying individuals.

How to make your Threads profile private

How to make your Threads profile private

Making your profile private is very easy: go to Settings -> Privacy and toggle the switch next to Private profile. A few lines further down you can find the Profiles you follow section. Go into it, select the Followers tab, and carefully edit the list — removing any suspicious individuals.

How to edit the list of your followers in Threads

How to edit the list of your followers in Threads

Finally, it’s important to note that private profiles in Threads and Instagram are configured independently of each other.

Other privacy settings in Threads

There are a few more settings inside the Threads application that might be useful.

Here are the options available under Settings -> Privacy, and what you can configure with them:

  • Mentions. Here, you can set who can mention you in posts — that is, link to your profile using the “@” symbol followed by your username.
  • Hidden words. In this section you can filter offensive language in responses to your posts. You can use automatic filtering with built-in lists, or add specific words and phrases that are relevant to you. These options are synchronized across Threads and Instagram — if you enable them in one app, they’ll apply to the other as well.
  • Hide likes. With this setting, you can choose whether the like count will be displayed next to your posts. Note that this is another shared setting that applies to both Threads and Instagram.

Another useful setting is located in Settings -> Notifications. Just like Facebook and Instagram, Threads allows you to flexibly configure push notifications, deciding which of them the social network is allowed to send you. Currently, Threads offers a dozen separate types of notifications, along with the option to pause notifications from the app for a specific period — you can set an interval between 15 minutes and eight hours.

Notification settings in Threads

Notification settings in Threads

There’s no option to completely disable all notifications with one button, but you can do this in your smartphone’s settings if you wish.

Security settings in Threads

Strictly speaking, there are no security settings in the Threads app itself. The security settings of all Instagram and Facebook accounts are configured from Meta’s Accounts Center. To get there, in Threads, go to Settings -> Account and select Security.

Security settings in Threads

Security settings in Threads

There are quite a few settings under this tab. The most relevant ones are the following:

  • Change password. It’s pretty easy to guess that this section allows you to change your Instagram (which means Threads as well) and Facebook account passwords in the same place.
  • Two-factor authentication. This is where you set up two-factor authentication for Threads/Instagram and Facebook. Different options are available — from one-time codes being sent to your phone, to authenticator apps. I recommend the latter option, as it offers the optimal trade-off between security and convenience.
  • Where you’re logged in. This section allows you to check which devices are signed in to your Instagram and Facebook accounts. It would be wise to check this list from time to time to see if any unexpected devices have appeared and to delete old ones you no longer use.
  • Login alerts. Here you can set up notifications that will alert you when someone tries to log into your Instagram and Facebook accounts. It would make sense to enable all the notification channels and respond to the alerts ASAP.
  • Security Checkup. This menu item takes you to a window presenting the key security-related information about your Threads/Instagram or Facebook account. Here you can look up your linked e-mails and phone numbers (and change them if no longer available), the date you changed your password the last time, and whether two-factor authentication is on or not.
Facebook or Threads/Instagram account security checkup

Facebook or Threads/Instagram account security checkup

Technically, you can configure all the same things under other settings. This window, however, offers the convenience of doing it all from the same place.

Other privacy settings in Threads

Let’s now take a look at the measures limiting the amount of data Threads collects about you and thus protecting your privacy — not from other users of the platform but from its owners. And we’re going to do this in the settings, of course — not those of the app itself but in your OS.

iOS users should begin by checking that their iPhone or iPad is configured to disable permission for apps to track your actions across other companies’ apps and websites. Apple rolled out this feature back in its iOS 14.5. We’ve already discussed some details on its design, purpose, and proper setup.

You can set this up in iOS in Settings -> Privacy & Security -> Tracking. Best of all is to completely disable Allow Apps to Request to Track.

Disabling app tracking in iOS

Disabling app tracking in iOS

Another thing to be set up is the app permissions. Threads requests a few of them already, whereas its parent, Instagram — considerably more. Permissions in both should be limited. Pay attention to the following in particular:

  • Access to microphone and camera. I personally prefer not to give these permissions at all.
  • Access to location services. Either permit it only when using the app (if you like adding geotags), or disable it altogether.
  • Access to photos and videos. For iOS, the best option is Selected Photos, which enables the app to access only the photos you intend posting in it. As far as I know, Android provides no such option, so you either permit access to photos or stick with not posting any. Not a bad option in fact, if you only intend to view other people’s posts.
  • Background app refresh. If you disable this one, apps won’t be able to operate in the background, which is good. Even if you’re not concerned with how much information about you they collect, this option greatly reduces the amount of data the apps keep streaming to their servers, thus saving your internet traffic and battery charge. The option is available both in iOS and Android.
Setting up Threads and Instagram permissions in iOS

Setting up Threads and Instagram permissions in iOS

You should also think about whether you really need all those endless social network notifications? I personally like to keep them completely off, so I am not distracted by random likes under my photos or posts. I prefer interacting with my apps when I want to and have time for it — not when they choose to bother me with yet another notification.

To disable all notifications from Threads in iOS, go to Settings -> Notifications, find the app in the list and deactivate Allow Notifications. In Android, the menu items will be different depending on device version and vendor, but the feature will be placed in a similar location.

Completely disabling Threads notifications in iOS

Completely disabling Threads notifications in iOS

Deleting your Threads account

You might have heard that your Threads account cannot be deleted. That’s kind of true; thing is — Threads accounts don’t exist, so it’s quite tricky deleting something that’s not there. You sign in to Threads using your Instagram account, based on which your Threads user profile is created. Thus, you don’t have to make up a new password, or even type it: your login and password will be automatically copied over from Instagram.

But you cannot delete your Threads profile either: to wipe it you have to completely delete your parent Instagram account. But your Threads profile can be deactivated: once you do that, all your data will be concealed from other users of the social network. So, in practical terms, it’s not much different from deletion.

To do this, go to Settings -> Account -> Deactivate profile and press Deactivate Threads profile.

Deleting (deactivating) your Threads profile

Threads profile deactivation is effectively the same as deletion

Password is the staff of life

The fact that your Instagram account data is now used for two social networks instead of one has an important consequence: your login and password are now twice as important. So now your Instagram account needs to be properly protected against takeover more than ever. Do the following:

  • Use a password that’s both unique and strong. In general, strong means long — at least 12 characters or more. You can generate a good password using our Kaspersky Password Manager, which also doubles as secure password storage, lest you forget your password.
  • Enable two-factor authentication. It’s best to use one-time codes from the app. By the way, our Kaspersky Password Manager now features a built-in authenticator.


#set #privacy #security #Threads

Information about what you eat, what you watch, who you text, who you sleep with and where you’re going on vacation has long been a commodity. You basically give it to your browser for free, which then passes it on to companies you have no interest in for them to monetize. If that makes you uncomfortable, you’ve come to the right place — we’re here to help you find a private browser that respects your privacy! But before listing these alternatives, we need to highlight what’s actually wrong with the world’s most popular browser — used by two-thirds of the world’s netizens.

What’s wrong with Chrome privacy?

If you’re interested in the topic of user data collection, you probably already know all about Google, and so you can skip this part. But for those who’ve just joined us so to speak, we’ll briefly explain Chrome’s attitude to user privacy, and why the browser is best avoided.

It’s important to realize that Google gets the lion’s share of its revenue (in 2022 more than 80%) from selling ads. And the basis of such outstanding success of the company in the advertising business is user data. It’s this data that allows advertisers to target audiences far more precisely than through other platforms. That’s because Google can — and does — collect far more of your data than anyone else.

Its sources of user data are wide-ranging: from highly visible products and services used by everyone (search, YouTube, Android, etc.), to invisible ones like Google’s analytical tools, which are used by most websites and applications. Of course, Google’s own browser, Chrome, plays a not-insignificant role in all this.

If you use Chrome, Google can see just about everything you get up to online. And there’s nothing you can do about it: delete as many cookies as you like or browse in Incognito mode, it won’t make a lot of difference — Google will still hoover up data about your internet activity.

And don’t forget that, besides Google, hundreds of other companies are also tracking your actions in cyberspace. And Chrome doesn’t really do much to stop this. But never fear, there are lots of other browsers out there that treat your data far more delicately: they collect less data, link it less rigidly to a concrete identity, and are more proactive in preventing data collection by other parties.

These more privacy-minded alternatives to Chrome are the topic of this post. But since it would take too long to list them all, we’ll focus here on some of the more interesting options — in ascending order of complexity.

Simplest: Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari

Great news for those too lazy to download and install something else: you can get rid of Chrome without lifting a finger. Users of Windows or macOS/iOS just need to switch to the preinstalled browser: Microsoft Edge or Apple Safari, respectively.

Apple Safari

Operating systems: iOS, macOS
Based on: Apple’s own development
Strict privacy mode: no

User security and privacy have been priorities for Apple for some time now. It first took action against third-party tracking of Safari users five years ago. The latest versions of the native iOS and macOS browser block trackers on sites by default, and are able to hide the user’s IP address and report how many tracking elements have been blocked on viewed pages.

And while Safari may not be the most private browser of all (it allows some trackers and has a unique fingerprint), everything works by default right away — you don’t have to configure anything or enable private mode. In short, if you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac, Safari is a great way to increase online privacy with no effort at all.

Pros:

  • Installed on iOS and macOS by default.
  • No setting up required — just open and surf away.

Cons:

  • No versions for other OSes.
  • No strict privacy mode.
  • Average level of anti-tracking protection.

Microsoft Edge

Operating systems: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux
Based on: Chromium
Strict privacy mode: yes

Following Apple’s example, Microsoft felt obliged to beef up privacy in its own browser. The current version of Edge features highly effective built-in tools for combating web trackers; however, they’re not enabled by default. On the plus side, as before, Windows users don’t have to install anything — the browser comes with the operating system.

There are three main drawbacks to Edge…

First, there’s the fact that it’s based on Google’s open-source browser Chromium, which underpins Chrome — the very browser we’re trying to avoid. Chromium has in the past been caught sending data to Google (to be fair, this was quickly rectified).

Second, Edge sends quite a lot of data to Microsoft’s servers. This isn’t good, of course, but at least Microsoft’s cross-platform tracking abilities are less developed than Google’s.

Third, in the default basic mode, Edge does nothing to deter web trackers. To combat them, you need to enable strict privacy mode in the settings — something that few users will bother to do.

Pros:

  • Installed on Windows by default.
  • Versions exist for all other OSes.
  • Great protection against trackers in strict privacy mode.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t stop trackers at all in basic mode.
  • Based on Google’s Chromium.
  • Collects data for Microsoft.

More complex: Mozilla Firefox and Vivaldi

Now let’s look at a couple of options that require downloading and installing. Note that both are noticeably better at combating web trackers than the native browsers in Windows, iOS and macOS, and at the same time they’re still quite simple and user-friendly, so switching over is relatively painless.

Mozilla Firefox

Operating systems: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux
Based on: Mozilla’s own development
Strict privacy mode: yes

Mozilla Firefox is the only browser that was developed from start to finish independently of any IT giant (at least directly). Firefox is particularly notable for its in-house web engine. Mozilla gets most of its revenue from the search engines Google, Yandex and Baidu for setting them as default (depending on the region, of course) in the browser settings. But that’s about it: Mozilla doesn’t sell user data and doesn’t try to stop you changing the default search engine in Firefox to something else.

Even in basic mode, Firefox offers great protection against online tracking. And if you crank up the privacy slider to the top, it’s one of the best in the business. Incidentally, in addition to the regular Firefox, there’s also a version for mobile OSes called Firefox Focus, which is even more privacy-focused (available for both Android and iOS).

Pros:

  • Versions exist for all OSes.
  • Decent protection against trackers even in basic mode.
  • Great protection against trackers in strict privacy mode.
  • Mozilla’s own development.

Cons:

Vivaldi

Operating systems: Windows, Android, macOS, Linux
Based on: Chromium
Strict privacy mode: yes

Vivaldi’s developers concentrate primarily on privacy. The brains behind this browser belong to Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, the legendary creator of Opera (once considered one of the most secure browsers, even having a built-in VPN). Vivaldi boasts a lot of customization options: its settings cover two dozen screens.

The browser has a built-in ad and web-tracker blocker, which does a fine job. Another interesting feature: Vivaldi lets you set different search engines for normal and private windows, which makes it possible to quickly switch between, say, Bing, Google, and DuckDuckGo.

Like Mozilla, Vivaldi earns its crust from user searches in search engines, as well as from placing links to various internet services on the browser’s home screen. At the same time, Vivaldi’s creators openly state that they don’t engage in any kind of user data collection, profiling or tracking. The only thing to bear in mind is that Vivaldi, like Edge, is based on Google’s Chromium engine (see above for potential issues).

Pros:

  • Versions exist for all operating systems except iOS.
  • Great protection against trackers in strict privacy mode.
  • Huge amount of customization.

Cons:

  • Based on Google’s Chromium.

Hardcore: DuckDuckGo, Tor Browser, Mullvad Browser

Lastly, for extreme privacy seekers, there are DuckDuckGo, Tor Browser and Mullvad Browser. Although there’s nothing hugely complex about them, maximum anti-tracking protection comes at the expense of surfing speed and user-friendliness. So if you want total control over your data, you’ll have to put in some effort.

DuckDuckGo

Operating systems: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS
Based on: Mozilla Firefox
Strict privacy mode: maximum privacy by default

The DuckDuckGo browser was created by the team behind the private search engine of the same name, so, as you might guess, that’s the default option. An important detail: you can’t change the default search engine, so it may take some time to get used to both the browser and the search interface.

Among other things, DuckDuckGo helps against user tracking on YouTube: it offers a browsing mode in which it opens all YouTube videos in the native Duck Player.

DuckDuckGo’s developers make no secret of the fact that they earn money from ads in search results, but point out that they do so without tracking or profiling users, based only on the content of search queries: “If you search for cars, we’ll show you ads about cars. It’s that simple.”

Pros:

  • Versions exist for all operating systems except Linux.
  • Great anti-tracking protection.
  • Maximum privacy settings right out of the box.
  • Uses the private search engine DuckDuckGo.
  • Plays YouTube videos in its own Duck Player.
  • Let’s you quickly delete all history and start surfing with a clean slate.

Cons:

Tor Browser

Operating systems: Windows, Android, macOS, Linux
Based on: Mozilla Firefox
Strict privacy mode: maximum privacy by default

Tor Browser is Mozilla Firefox on steroids. Its creators made it as secure as possible against online tracking, with strict privacy mode enabled out of the box. Tor is great at blocking trackers, has a minimally unique fingerprint, and uses the DuckDuckGo search engine by default (can be changed in the settings).

But the main feature is that all traffic in Tor Browser is routed through the Tor (The Onion Router) network — with all the advantages and disadvantages this entails. The chief plus, of course, is maximum anonymity and anti-tracking protection; the main minus is the low surfing speed. For those accustomed to modern connection speeds, browsing in Tor will be quite painful. It’s possible to configure Tor Browser to work without the Tor network, but there’s a better option, which we discuss below.

Tor Browser is available for all desktop operating systems, as well as for Android. But not for iOS: instead, the Tor Project recommends that iPhone owners use the Onion Browser app, made by a Tor-friendly developer.

Pros:

  • Great anti-tracking protection.
  • Versions exist for all operating systems except iOS.
  • Maximum privacy settings right out of the box.
  • Uses the private search engine DuckDuckGo.
  • Lets you quickly delete all history and start surfing with a clean slate.
  • Anonymous connection through the Tor network.

Cons:

Mullvad Browser

Operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux
Based on: Mozilla Firefox
Strict privacy mode: maximum privacy by default

Mullvad Browser is basically the answer to the above question of how to use Tor Browser without the Tor network. It’s essentially the same browser, only instead of The Onion Router network it offers a secure connection through Mullvad VPN, an anonymous VPN service that even allows users to pay in cash sent by snail mail — all in the name of privacy.

All other features remain in place: excellent protection against web trackers immediately after installation, with the ability to enhance privacy and security using custom settings. Despite this, the connection speeds are still very fast, so surfing with Mullvad Browser doesn’t evoke memories of the dial-up modem era.

Mullvad Browser was launched just recently, so currently it’s available only for desktop operating systems — we’ll have to sit patiently for Android and iOS versions.

Pros:

  • Great anti-tracking protection.
  • Maximum privacy settings right out of the box.
  • Uses the DuckDuckGo search engine by default.
  • Lets you quickly delete all history and start surfing with a clean slate.

Cons:

  • No versions for Android and iOS.

Private surfing: what else to consider

Finally, a few extra tips on how to make internet surfing as private as possible:

  • If a “hardcore” private browser just isn’t your thing, try using several different browsers at the same time, varying the balance between privacy and ease of surfing as per the circumstances.
  • Set the most private browser you use as the default: this way, it will automatically open any link you click on, so you won’t need search and other wonders of technology.
  • Try not to install browser extensions unless absolutely necessary — these are commonly used for tracking (and not only).
  • Use a reliable VPN to secure the connection and hide your IP address.


#choose #browser #spies