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You are being tracked by your phone carrier, Twitter, others

AT&T is the most recent company to consider selling all of your “personal” information to advertisers, but there are ways of opting out of your every move being sold to the highest bidder.

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You are being tracked

AT&T is currently considering selling your browsing history, location, and more to their advertisers, according to a recent change to their privacy policy, attracting criticism from analysts across the board. The company says they will be able to fully “anonymize” large amounts of data, but many remain in disbelief, so for those that wish to opt out of AT&T, Twitter, Sprint, Verizon or even T-Mobile tracking and selling data, here’s how:

How to opt out of being tracked by AT&T

If you are an AT&T subscriber, opt out by logging in and checking the boxes for every phone number you would like to “opt out.” That is all you need to do, however, you might want to review AT&T’s privacy “choices and controls” to see what you can manage, and to learn exactly what they are doing with your data.

AT&T is not alone

If you are a Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile user and think you are safe, think again. Your carrier is already doing something very similar.

For Verizon users, you can opt out of their program by calling, 1-800-333-9956 and review all terms outlined in their privacy policy.

If you subscribe to Sprint, you can review the Sprint privacy policy and if anything is unsuitable or you simply don’t want to be tracked, you can opt out on the Sprint site.

If you use T-Mobile, their ” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>privacy policy is publicly available, but you should know that your information is sent to a third-party company, Network Advertising Initiative. This seems to limit your available options for opting out (since this other company is in control of that information). The closest thing on the web site is a cookie-based opt out.

It’s NOT just your phone carrier

If reselling of your tracked information has left you reeling, there is more to the story, starting with Twitter who has announced they will begin to display “promoted content from brands and businesses [you have] shown interest in…you will not see more ads, but better ones,” according to a recent statement.

What this means for you is that they are tracking you to make more money. However, they are offering two options to opt out. The first is to enable the “Do Not Track” at the browser level and Twitter will respect this setting (see instructions for your browser below):

  • For Firefox: Go to “tools,” then “options.” Select “privacy” in the tabs and check the box that says, “tell sites I do not want to be tracked.” And click “OK.”
  • Internet Explorer: Click “tools,” then “internet options.” Select “privacy,” then check the box under “location” that says, “never allow websites to request your physical location.” Then click “Apply” and “OK.”
  • Chrome: (Yes, there is a setting for this now) You will go to menu, then “settings.” Click “show advanced settings” and then “privacy.”
  • Safari: Tap menu, then “preferences.” Navigate to the “advanced” tab on the right (it looks like a gear). Click the box next to “show develop menu in menu bar.” Close out your preferences and you should now see a new menu labeled, “develop.” Click this. Then click, “send do not track http header.” And it should show a check mark when you have finished.

The second, which works without changing anything in your browser, can be found in your Twitter account settings. If you scroll down once you are in the settings section, you will see two new checkboxes: “Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits” and “Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners.” You will simply need to uncheck those boxes and save your settings. And as easy as that, Twitter will no long be tracking you online.

Do you care if you are tracked?

With all of this tracking taking place, what do you think? Businesses have to make money, but do they need to track our every move? I think Twitter has the right idea by openly giving users the option of opting-out. I am sure some people do not mind being tracked, but some users do. This way, Twitter still makes money from users who do not mind “tailored” advertising, but users who do not want their details shared, can remove their information.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Tech News

New Apple Watch is awesome, but past watches could be just as good for cheaper

(TECH NEWS) The Apple Watch Series 6 is a ridiculous display of self-flattery—but that doesn’t mean people won’t line up to buy it in droves.

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Apple Watch being worn on wrist showing weather for Montreal.

The Apple Watch has been the subject of everything from speculation to ridicule during its relatively short tenure on this planet. While most have nothing but praise for the most recent iteration, that praise comes at a cost: The Apple Watch’s ghost of Christmas past.

Or, to put it more literally, the fact that the Apple Watch’s prior version and accompanying variations are too good—and, at this point, too comparatively cheap—to warrant buying the most recent (and expensive) option.

Sure, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a bevy of health features—a sensor that can take an ECG and a blood oxygen test, to name a couple—but the Series 5 has almost everything else that makes the Apple Watch Series 6 “notable.” According to Gear Patrol, even the Series 4 is comparable if you don’t mind forgoing the option to have the Apple Watch’s screen on all of the time.

More pressingly, Gear Patrol points out, is the availability of discount options from Apple. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch SE are, at this point, budget options that still do the job for smart watch enthusiasts.

Not to mention any Apple Watch can run updates can utilize Apple’s Fitness Plus subscription—another selling point that, despite its lucrative potential, doesn’t justify buying a $400 watch when a cheaper option is present.

It’s worth noting that Apple is no stranger to outdoing themselves retroactively. Every year, Apple’s “new” MacBook, iPhone, and iPad models are subjected to extensive benchmarking by every tech goatee around. And the conclusion is usually that buying a generation or two behind is fine—and, from a financial perspective, smart.

And yet, as the holidays roll around or the initial drop date of a new product arrives, Apple invariably goes through inventory like a tabby cat through unattended butter.

The Apple Watch is already a parody of itself, yet its immense popularity and subtle innovation has promoted it through several generations and a few spin-off iterations. And that’s not even including the massive Apple-specific watch band market that appears to have popped up as a result.

Say what you will about the Series 6; when the chips are on the table, my money’s on the consumers making the same decisions they always make.

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Tech News

Microsoft acquires powerful AI language processor GPT-3, to what end?

(TECH NEWS) This powerful AI language processor sounds surprisingly human, and Microsoft has acquired rights to the code. How much should we worry?

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Code on screen, powering AI technology

The newly-released GPT-3 is the most insane language model in the NLP (natural language processor) field of machine learning. Developed by OpenAI, GPT-3 can generate strikingly human-like text for a vast range of purposes like bots and advertising, to poetry and creative writing.

While GPT-3 is accessible to everyone, OpenAI has expressed concerns over using this AI tech for insidious purposes. For this reason, Microsoft’s new exclusive license on the GPT-3 language model may be a tad worrisome.

First of all, for those unfamiliar with the NPL field, software engineer, and Youtuber, Aaron Jack, provides a detailed overview of GPT-3’s capabilities and why everyone should be paying attention.

Microsoft’s deal with OpenAI should come as little surprise since OpenAI uses the Azure cloud platform to access enough information to train their models.

Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott announced the deal on the company blog this week: “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale,” said Scott.

“Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, so we want to make sure that this AI platform is available to everyone – researchers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, businesses – to empower their ambitions to create something new and interesting.”

OpenAI has assured that Microsoft’s exclusive license does not affect the general public’s access to the GPT-3 model. The difference is Microsoft will be able to use the source code to combine with their products.

While OpenAI needs Azure to train these models, handing over the source code to another party is, to put it mildly, tricky. With the earlier GPT-2 model, OpenAI initially refused publishing the research out of fear it could be used to generate fake news and propaganda.

Though the company found there was no evidence to suggest the GPT-2 was utilized this way and later released the information, handing the key of the exponentially more powerful iteration to one company will undoubtedly hold ramifications in the tech world.

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Tech News

What is UI/UX? Take a little time to learn for free!

(TECH NEWS) For the all-time low price of—well, free—Invise gives you the option of learning a few basic UI and UX design techniques.

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Woman browsing web, made easy with UI/UX

There’s no denying the strong impact UI and UX design has on the success of a website, app, or service—and, thanks to some timely altruism, you can add basic design understanding to your résumé for free.

Invise is a self-described beginner’s guide to the UI/UX field, and while they do not purport to deliver expert knowledge or “paid courses”, the introduction overview alone is pretty hefty.

The best part—aside from the “free” aspect—is how simple it is to get a copy of the guide: You enter your email address on the Invise website, click the appropriate button, and the guide is yours after a quick email verification.

According to Invise, their beginner’s guide to UI and UX covers everything from color theory and typography to layout, research principles, and prototyping. They even include a segment on tools and resources to use for optimal UI/UX work so that you don’t have to take any risks on dicey software.

UI—short for “user interface”—and UX, or “user experience”, are two critical design aspects found in everything from websites to app and video game menus. As anyone who has ever picked up an outdated smartphone knows, a janky presentation of options or—worse yet—a lack of intuitive menus can break a user’s experience far faster than slow hardware.

Similarly, if you’re looking to retain customers who visit your website or blog, presenting their options to them in a jarring or unfamiliar way—or selecting colors that clash for your landing page—can be just as fatal as not having a website to begin with.

The overarching problem, then, becomes one of cost. Hiring a design expert is expensive and can be time-consuming, so Invise is a welcome alternative—and, as a bonus, you don’t have to dictate your company’s vision to a stranger and hope that they “get it” if you’re doing your own design work.

2020 probably isn’t the year to break the bank on design choices, but the importance of UI and UX in your business can’t be overstated. If you have time to read up on some design basics and a small budget for a few of the bare-bones tools, you can take a relatively educated shot at putting together a modern, desirable interface.

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