Keeping Contacts Contained


No, not the contacts that I know I wouldn’t be able to wear because I flinch and turn away from simple eye drops as though someone is throwing a baseball at me. The other kind of contacts that live on our phones and if you are like most people, are also scattered to multiple companies and data-miners the world over.

Most people don’t give any thought to the contacts on their mobile device (whether you’re a superior iPhone user or a lowly Android owner who is content to wallow in the filth).

You probably have multiple entries for several people you’ve met (and met a second and third time not remembering the first time). More than likely you have numerous people you haven’t seen in years and only keep them in your contacts so you know not to answer the phone when they call. Chances are you have clever nickknames for some people saved in your contacts like Jim “Lankenstein” Hull, Mike “Faster Than You” Conti, or Nickk “The Great” Shepard.

One person I’ve spoken to has a contact called “Passwords,” which, you guessed it, contains all of their personal passwords. On top of all of that, you might be like one person in my life who kept extremely personal information on their adult children and their spouses such as social security numbers, in their contacts.

Honestly, all of that stuff is fine, I guess (though that password example is very sus), if our contacts truly were safe and secure, kept on our own personal devices. But this little popup…is a plague on all of our privacy.

It pops up with most new app installs, promising help finding your friends. Social media apps kind of makes sense, but it will pop up on other types of apps like cooking apps or games. All with the loose affiliation of helping you connect with people you know.

And I get it, social media is meant to be…social. But the problem is we’re wildly oversharing not just our information, but our friends and family’s information as well. This information often isn’t just kept with the companies we think we are sharing it with — it’s passed around via deals to numerous third parties, who then use that information to build massive ad networks and other if not nefarious, than unwelcome reasons. Every address, phone number, note, password, personal information, and contact pic of everyone in your contact list, shared with a quick “Allow access” press.

Now the bad news is that you probably can’t undo all of the shares that you’ve done in the past — but you can change how you move forward.

First, stop clicking that Allow access for contacts — it’s just not needed for most apps, and I’m tempted to say it’s not needed for all apps.

Second, if you’re on an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings — Privacy — Contacts and disable sharing with each app you don’t want continued access to the contacts stored on your device. If you’re on most modern Android devices, go to Settings — Privacy — Permission Manager — Contacts and remove permissions as needed.

A whole lot of the time, we don’t have a say about what information of ours is leaked (looking at you Office of Personnel Management), but we’re not completely helpless. Our choices can make a big difference in not only our privacy, but the privacy of our friends and families.



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