September 9, 2015 | By Kristina Dolgin
Sex workers are seeing their clients pop up in their “people you should know” on personal Facebook accounts, meaning that clients are seeing sex worker’s personal accounts pop up into theirs. This causes major privacy concerns as people in the sex industry have many reasons to maintain anonymity and distance with clients and people who pose as clients, like predators and cops. This phenomenon is happening despite sex workers using the most stringent privacy settings on Facebook and despite using different names and email addresses from their work communications.
Facebook has engineered their own data-mining device that tracks users as they go anywhere and everywhere on the Internet. The main purpose of this device is to give Facebook advertisers higher traffic and sales, collecting information about users so users can be shown targeted ads. (To see more information about how this works you can go here.)
How to protect yourself:
There are a number of different ways sex workers can help protect themselves from Facebook’s data-mining without giving up Facebook. Using them all together is recommended and totally doable for even the least tech savvy user.
Please note: 100% protection cannot be guaranteed. Internet and technology companies are constantly improving and extending their reach.
For your computer:
- The most effective way is to pick a browser (like Firefox, Safari, Chrome) you don’t normally use and turn it into your Facebook browser. Do not use it for anything else. (If you only do one thing this is the one to do!)
- Sign off of Facebook on your usual browser. Clear all your cookies for all your browsers.
- Go to Digital Advertising Alliance in each browser and opt out of Facebook’s data-mining ability (along with the other dozens of companies that are doing it to you too.) Note: if you clear your cookies in the future (which you should be doing periodically) you will automatically be opted back in to Facebook’s tracking. Ugh, but it only takes a few seconds to remedy.
- Install Adblock Plus in each browser to block tracking, malware, popups, and video ads. It’s totally free and will exponentially improve your Internet experience.
- Install Ghostery in each browser for additional tracking protection.
- Log out of Facebook after you use it! Facebook reps say that their data-mining capabilities end when users sign out of their accounts. This is disputed however so it is still recommended that users do the above. Logging out is especially important for users that check Facebook on friend’s or library computers.
For your phone:
- 1) Opt out of MobileAppTracking (“MAT”). This will stop the MAT from monitoring your devise across apps and websites that use MAT’s services.
- 2) Opt out of tracking on your device:
- Apple: Open iPhone Settings and go to Privacy > Advertising, and then click “Limit Ad Tracking.”
- Android: Go to Google Settings > Ads > Opt Out of Interest-Based Ads, and click.
- Windows: Go to Settings > System Applications > Advertising ID, and opt-out by setting the Advertising ID to “Off”.
For more information or to share other concerns about sex worker privacy please contact Kristina@RedLightLegal.org.
Red Light Legal provides direct legal services, legal representation, community education, and effective policy advocacy to sex workers in all corners of the industry.